Klein & Wilson

Pet food companies settle contentious lawsuit

Pet food may not be the industry that you would immediately consider when you hear the phrase "business litigation," but for a few years, two rival pet food companies have been locked in a false advertising lawsuit. Nestle Purina, which makes numerous pet food brands, filed a lawsuit against Blue Buffalo, which is a pet food company that says they use natural ingredients in their products. It is central to their ad campaign and packaging.

However, Nestle Purina alleged that Blue Buffalo's pet food actually contained poultry byproducts and thus filed a lawsuit since such ingredients would contradict their packaging. Blue Buffalo denied the claim, but later disclosed that their pet food did have poultry byproducts in them, but only because a supplier lied to them about the contents of their food.

Nestle Purina and Blue Buffalo recently settled their lawsuit, though terms and conditions of that settlement were not made public.

There are a couple of things to take away from this story. The first is that few lawsuits actually go to court anymore. Many business lawsuits are settled out of court, and this gives the companies more flexibility when it comes to ending the dispute and establishing acceptable parameters for remedies.

Another lesson here is that making sure the settlement remains private it a critical part of the settlement. No company wants the details of their settlements to leak to the public. There is often critical financial information contained within these settlements, an no business would want that out in the open.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Purina, Blue Buffalo settle false advertising lawsuit," Lisa Brown, Nov. 3, 2016

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