Case Study: Administering a Pet Food Products Liability MDL SettlementCase Study: Administering a Pet Food Products Liability MDL Settlement

Fri, Oct 13, 2023

Administering a Pet Food Products Liability MDL Settlement

In Re: Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. Dog Food Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2887, Case No. 2:19-md-02887-JAR-TJJ

Case Summary

The settlement of In Re: Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. Dog Food Product Liability Litigation resolved claims that certain varieties of Hill’s Prescription Science and Diet Science canned dog food were defective in their safety and quality because they contained dangerously high levels of Vitamin D which could cause dogs to experience serious health issues and even death. Under the terms of this MDL class action settlement, defendant Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. (Hill’s) agreed to pay $12.5M into a common fund settlement.

The Challenge

The parties’ settlement agreement provided settlement benefits to any class members who submitted valid claims, including:

  • Class member claimants without proofs of purchase received up to $20.
  • Class member claimants with proofs of purchase received 100% of their documented losses.
  • Class member claimants with dog injury claims received payment for expenses incurred for the testing and treatment, and the injury or death of a dog.

Kroll’s challenge was twofold: to notify class members of these settlement benefits and to review and evaluate hundreds of dog injury and death claims.

Kroll mailed the long form notice and claim form to nearly 12,000 class members and sent email notice to over 14,500 class members. However, class counsel estimated that over one million cans of the dog food were sold to consumers in the U.S. during the class period. Therefore, the vast majority of class members did not receive direct notice via mail or email. Kroll was therefore required to formulate a notice plan that included print and digital notice publication to reach these settlement class members. Kroll’s notice media team has decades of experience and resources, which made Kroll uniquely qualified to design and implement such a plan.

Kroll's Solution

Prior to serving any direct, publication, or media notice to class members, Kroll built an informational settlement website with functionality for online claims filing and document uploading. Important documents posted on the settlement website were available in both English and Spanish. Kroll also secured a toll-free phone number, built an IVR system that was available 24/7, and trained live operators to assist class members with any additional questions.

Kroll’s notice program and supplemental notice program employed best-in-class tools and technology to reach an estimated 80% of the targeted class nationwide, on average approximately 2.4 times, across several mediums.

Specifically, Kroll’s notice media team published a full-page advertisement in National Geographic and a two-thirds page advertisement in The Journal of the American Veterinarian Medical Association. Approximately 148 million online display, search and social media ads were served. Online display ads were able to target known in-market purchasers and past purchasers of wet dog food. In addition, Facebook and Instagram ads targeted people who had “liked” or “followed” pet food and related social pages such as Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Science Diet, Petco, PetSmart, and Chewy pages as well as dog owners. Keyword search targeting was employed to show ads in Google search results. Display ads and social media ads were also used to retarget users who visited the settlement website. Additionally, a press release was issued that resulted in approximately 102 news mentions of the settlement.

To further promote claims filing, the District Court approved a supplemental notice program which ran for over one month during the claims filing period. The supplemental notice program consisted of display ads, keyword search advertising and social media ads on Facebook and Instagram. These media channels were chosen based on high engagement during the initial notice program.


Notice Media Solutions

  • Direct notice to those for whom a U.S. Postal address or email address was available
  • Reminder notices mailed and emailed to class members who had not yet submitted a claim
  • Online display banner advertising specifically targeted to reach class members
  • Keyword search targeting class members
  • Social media through Facebook and Instagram
  • Publication of a full-page notice in National Geographic and two-thirds page notice in The Journal of The American Veterinarian Medical Association



  • Press release across PR Newswire’s US1 Newslines
  • Informational website was established on which notices and important Court documents were posted
  • Toll-free informational phone line established and available for more information about the settlement, including but not limited to, requesting copies of the Long Form
  • Notice, with both IVR (24/7) and live operators (during normal business hours)

The Impact

Due to Kroll’s robust notice program:

  • Kroll received over 23,000 valid non-proof-of-purchase claims who were paid up to $20 which totaled over $426,000
  • Kroll received over 1,200 valid proof-of-purchase claims who were paid 100% of their documented losses which totaled over $350,000
  • Kroll received nearly 500 valid dog injury or death claims which totaled over $900,000, averaging over $1,850 per claim

In accordance with the settlement agreement, dog injury claims below $500 per dog were resolved by Kroll in its discretion, in consultation with class counsel. For claims over $500, Kroll engaged a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine consultant to assist in reviewing and evaluating testing and treatment records. Dog injury claims over $500 required both Kroll’s recommendation and class counsels’ approval to be deemed valid.

On November 10, 2021, the District Court issued an order approving a 4.25 multiplier to each valid claimant’s payment amount. Therefore, class members with valid claims actually received a total of over $7 million from the settlement fund.

Kroll distributed the settlement fund’s residual amount of nearly $500,000 to a cy pres beneficiary. The parties proposed and the District Court approved Unleashed Pet Rescue as being closely tethered to the nature of the lawsuit and the interests of class members because it provides food and medical care to dogs and other pets.

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