NEW YORK — A Kansas federal judge has approved an initial $12.5 million settlement involving Hill’s Pet Nutrition and a class action lawsuit representing 71 people. The settlement would resolve a lengthy class action lawsuit claiming damages related to the company’s widespread dog food recall in January 2019.

The recall involved 54 lots, approximately 675,000 cases of canned dog food, that contained potentially toxic levels of vitamin D. Multiple class action lawsuits were filed against the company by affected pet owners in February 2019.

Additionally, $4 million was awarded in attorney fees. US District Judge Julie A. Robinson, who approved the settlement, said more than 3,000 hours were spent litigating the case. The settlement was granted preliminary approval in February 2021 and allows class members to make claims for reimbursement both for purchasing the products and treatment of injuries to their pets. Any leftover funds from the settlement will go to Unleashed Pet Rescue.

Multiple lawsuits against Hill’s Pet Nutrition related to elevated vitamin D claims were consolidated in July 2019, after the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation found there were common factual issues among the suits and that consolidating would streamline the process.

The suits each claim that varieties of dog food sold by Hill's Pet Nutrition contained dangerous levels of vitamin D, with some plaintiffs alleging the food led to their pets' deaths. According to a suit filed in New York, Hill's recalled some of its specialty pet food products in January 2019 but should have instituted a recall much earlier.

Stay up to date on the latest pet food processing industry headlines on our News page.