United States District Judge Noel Hillman, sitting in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, heard arguments late last week in the Menu Foods cases. Menu is the company accused of selling defective pet food that has sickened or killed nearly 30,000 pet owners. They recalled 6 million cans of pet food. During the two day hearing, Judge Hillman expressed his disappointment that Menu was violating his prior order that required Menu to shut down its customer contact program. He was especially troubled by the fact that four pet owners, who are represented by Chicago attorney Jay Edelson of Chicago’s Blim & Edelson, filed affidavits with the judge on May 23, 2007. These cients told Menu Foods that they were represented by an attorney. Despite that, Menu and their agent Crawford, continued to call these pet owners multiple times. Menu agreed to enter into a consent order whereby they agreed they would no longer initiate any contact with pet owners. Menu has posted a summary of Judge Hillman’s order of May 24, 2007 on it’s website. This order will remain in force until after a judge is assigned and receives all of the cases filed from the various courts around the country. The assignment will be made by the Judicial Panel for Multi-District Litigation (MDL) that will convene in Las Vegas on May 31, 2007. The MDL Panel will consider where to transfer the cases. The MDL Docket Number is MDL -1850 and the cases are captioned: In re Pet Food Products Liability Litigation. Judge Hillman is presiding over about 40 cases, filed in Camden (NJ) because a Menu Foods plant is located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, a neighboring town.
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