Judge greenlights class action against Hill’s for “unethical and unscrupulous” conduct in marketing pet food to the owners of sick cats and dogs
CHICAGO – On Friday, September 29, 2023, A federal judge decided that an $80 million lawsuit against Hill’s Pet Nutrition can move forward as a class action. U.S. District Court Judge Jorge L. Alonso (Northern District of Illinois) came to that decision after reviewing evidence that supported allegations that Hill’s, one of the largest pet food makers in the world, engaged in deceptive, “unethical and unscrupulous” conduct in the marketing of “Prescription Diet” products, a high-priced line of pet foods sold to the owners of sick cats and dogs.
About the Hill's "Prescription Diet" Lawsuit
The lawsuit brought by Illinois women Holly Vanzant and Sherry Nevius alleges that Hill’s tricked them and other consumers into paying inflated prices by naming the brand “Prescription Diet” and requiring consumers to obtain a veterinary prescription in order to buy the food. The suit also alleges that Hill’s marketed the pet food as helping to “cure, treat or mitigate” diseases in sick pets, even though the products contain no drugs or medicines and no government regulator ever authorized the company to make such drug-marketing claims about the products.
Last Friday’s ruling found that two pet owners had presented enough evidence of “unethical or unscrupulous” conduct and one had presented enough evidence of deceptive conduct to justify certifying the claims against Hill’s as a class action. The suit seeks to recover over $80 million from Hill’s on behalf of Illinois purchasers of the products. Similar suits are pending against Hill’s and other pet food makers in California, Missouri and Kansas. More cases are likely to be filed in other states following Friday’s ruling.
The Case Against PetSmart
The Chicago-based federal court ruled the current plaintiffs were not able to proceed with a class action suit against PetSmart for selling these Hill’s products, and instead, the current claims against PetSmart will go forward individually. Pope McGlamry is actively reviewing cases from consumers who have purchased prescription pet food from PetSmart.
From Pope McGlamry
Seasoned class action attorney Mike McGlamry, one of the lawyers representing the pet owners, said of the ruling:
"Hill’s picked the name 'Prescription Diet.' Hill’s spends millions to convince veterinarians to 'prescribe' these foods to the vulnerable owners of sick cats and dogs. And, no surprise, Hill’s charges a lot more for these products compared to similar and cheaper off-the-shelf pet foods that the company also makes.
When questioned under oath in our case, however, Hill’s executives had to admit that its high-priced “Prescription Diet” products contain no drugs or medicines and that no prescription is legally required.
We look forward to presenting the evidence to a judge and jury."