grain free dog food

A judge has refused to dismiss a class action lawsuit over allegations that pet food made by Big Heart Pet Brands is not really grain free, as advertised.

The judge did trim some claims from the false ad class action lawsuit, but gave customers an opportunity to amend the class action and try again.

This decision was made by U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick, who rejected Big Heart Pet Brands’ motion to dismiss the pet food false ad class action lawsuit.

The company made multiple efforts to dodge the pet food class action lawsuit, arguing that the false ad claims should not be tackled by a class action lawsuit, but Judge Orrick determined that this effort was premature, and the case should currently remain as a class action lawsuit. He noted it was rare for courts to throw out class action claims at the current litigation stage.



The pet food company also said the pet food class action lawsuit should be moved to Ohio, the location of the Big Heart Pet Brands headquarters. Judge Orrick was unconvinced, noting that this would put put more burden on the plaintiffs. He decided that the Big Heart foods class action lawsuit should remain in California, the location of the company’s headquarters until 2019. 

According to the judge, previous decisions dictate that a suit cannot be moved to make litigation more challenging to plaintiffs — in contrast, California offers more convenience for all parties involved.

In their other attempts to block the pet food false ad class action lawsuit, largely the company argued that customers had not been specific enough in their allegations against Big Heart Pet Brands, and as a result, the company asserted that the pet food class action lawsuit should be thrown out. 

The company said that customers did not sufficiently specify when and how testing was conducted on the pet food.

However, the judge determined that this lack of specificity was not enough to sink the customers’ claims against Big Heart Pet Brands. According to Judge Orrick, customers did not need to provide information on how their testing was performed at this stage in the legal process.



golden retriever dog waiting for a bowl of pet foodThe judge also rejected Big Heart Pet Brands’ argument that the consumers should have better defined key terms such as “grain” and “soy” to generate their argument that the pet food was falsely advertised, because he determined that these terms are common words that did not require a definition. 

According to the judge, the customers’ false advertisement claims could survive because they had sufficiently established that the reasonable consumer would be misled by the company’s use of the phrase “grain free.”

In yet another rejection of Big Heart’s attempt to say that the customers had not provided enough detail in their argument, the judge determined that it was not necessary for the customers to state that the amount of corn or soy in the pet foods was dangerous to pets.

He decided that since the customers’ allegations were based on false advertising, it was enough for the customers to solely say that there was corn or soy in any amount.

The judge did dismiss certain claims from the Big Heart Pet Brands ingredient misrepresentation class action lawsuit, but in these cases, gave the customers the opportunity to amend them per his direction.



Judge Orrick decided to throw out the customers’ plea for injunctive relief because they allegedly did not establish that they would purchase the food again if it were accurately advertised. 

How do you choose food for your pet? Let us know in the comments section below. 

The proposed Class of consumers is represented by Jonathan Shub and Kevin Laukaitis of John Swift & Graf PC; Gary E. Mason, Danielle L. Perry, and David Lietz of Mason Lietz & Klinger LLP, Gregory F. Coleman and Lisa A. White of Greg Coleman Law PC; Jeffrey S. Goldenberg of Goldenberg Schneider LPA; Charles E. Schaffer of Levin Sedran & Berman LLP; and Phillip Friedman of Friedman Law Offices.

The Big Heart Pet Brands Grain Free Dog Food Class Action Lawsuit is Rice-Sherman, et al. v. Big Heart Pet Brands Inc., Case No. 3:19-cv-03613, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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Please note: Top Class Actions is not a settlement administrator or law firm. Top Class Actions is a legal news source that reports on class action lawsuits, class action settlements, drug injury lawsuits and product liability lawsuits. Top Class Actions does not process claims and we cannot advise you on the status of any class action settlement claim. You must contact the settlement administrator or your attorney for any updates regarding your claim status, claim form or questions about when payments are expected to be mailed out.

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35 Comments

  • Monica chambless May 3, 2020

    Add me

  • Lanette Johnson April 22, 2020

    Add me please

  • TRINIDAD Elisa SANCHEZ April 19, 2020

    Please add me

  • CM April 17, 2020

    ADD ME

  • j brower April 14, 2020

    add me

  • pam campana April 14, 2020

    add me

  • Kathy Rhine April 14, 2020

    Please add me. My dog has allergies and trying to find a food that is good for him and doesn’t contain ingredients that I can’t pronounce is proving more and more difficult due to the false advertising on these premium brands.

  • Angela Arbogast April 14, 2020

    I USE NATURAL ONLY FOR MY DOG

  • ALICIA HEWITT April 14, 2020

    I choose food that states it has natural ingredients. Please add me

  • Brenda Lyn McGovern April 9, 2020

    Please add me

  • Penny Runyon April 8, 2020

    This truly disheartening to find out yet another company I trusted with my dogs diet has decieved me again!

  • Jennifer Morgan April 8, 2020

    Please add me, thank you!

  • Amparo Rosas-Cotto April 7, 2020

    One of my dogs can only eat grain free dog food or he will be throwing up and have diarrhea. I read the labels on their food and treats.
    Please add me to this claim.

  • Dayna Cook April 7, 2020

    Add me

  • Rose M Parks April 7, 2020

    Please add me
    I like to choose what food my King Ceasar eats, I do not feed him anything that I would not eat .

  • Penni Cruikshanks April 7, 2020

    Please add me

  • Jackie Sollogub April 4, 2020

    Please add me. Grain free food contributed to my dog’s death from heart failure.

  • Jeanette Lee Myers March 31, 2020

    Add me please grain free really made my dog who’s like my child sick and once we switched to healthy weight tractor supply brand she has been alot better

  • Angelica Figueroa March 31, 2020

    Add me….
    We do grain free due to our dogs allergies and digestive issues.

  • Karen gifford March 28, 2020

    You can add me too ty

  • Debra Riemenschneider March 27, 2020

    Add me as well. Thanks

    • Linda Joseph April 16, 2020

      Add me to the list please.

  • Angela Jackson March 27, 2020

    Add me

  • Judith anthony March 26, 2020

    Add me

  • JP March 25, 2020

    Grain Free isn’t good anyway. Look up Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

  • Linda Fuller March 25, 2020

    Add me

  • Lisa S. March 25, 2020

    Please add me also.

  • ned easter March 25, 2020

    please add me

  • Heather Leyva March 25, 2020

    Add me

  • Todd Russell March 25, 2020

    add me

  • Roxanne Argo March 24, 2020

    Add me to the pet food co.

  • Karen Wong March 24, 2020

    Add me please

  • Stephanie Mitchell March 24, 2020

    Add me please

    • mike March 24, 2020

      Ad me

  • Regina Burleson March 24, 2020

    Please include me

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