Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Petland and Hunte
Posted: Monday, August 10, 2009, 4:38 p.m., EDT
A federal district court judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit against Petland of Chillicothe, Ohio and its suppliers that claimed the companies conspired to sell unhealthy puppies.
United States District Judge David Campbell ruled on Aug. 7 that the complaint does not show a direct relationship between the allegedly unhealthy puppies purchased by the plaintiffs and the “purported fraudulent scheme.”
The lawsuit was filed March 16 in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Ariz., by several Petland consumers, two of which are members of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). It alleged Petland, which has more than 200 full-service pet centers, and its suppliers, including The Hunte Corp. of Goodman, Mo., “orchestrated and executed a scheme to defraud consumers by manufacturing a fictitious market for puppy mill puppies.”
According to Campbell’s ruling, the plaintiffs failed to provide enough evidence to support the claim that Petland “formed a scheme to defraud” or that their injuries were caused by Petland’s alleged misconduct. In addition, fraud claims based on Petland “misrepresenting and concealing the origins of puppies” do not hold up, Campbell said, because the company doesn’t have an “independent duty” to disclose such information to consumers.
With regard to The Hunte Corp., Campbell’s ruling said the plaintiffs admitted that the Petland puppies they purchased were not supplied by Hunte and “have not shown otherwise that they have suffered an injury at the hands of Hunte.”
In his order, Campbell gave the plaintiffs until Aug. 29 to file an amended complaint. HSUS spokeswoman Loraine Miscavage said they planned to do so before the deadline.
Petland and Hunte have vehemently denied the claims made against them in the lawsuit. In a statement issued on Aug. 8, Petland said HSUS had touted the lawsuit “in furtherance of its fundraising and media campaign, seeking to end the sale of animals through pet stores.”
Petland said it believes strongly that consumers have the right to purchase and keep pets. The company also expressed support for quality breeding and industry standards to ensure healthy and well-socialized pets. <HOME>
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