California Tainted Feed Lawsuit Refiled

A lawsuit seeking damages for owners whose horses ingested feed allegedly tainted with monensin has been refiled in part to seek compensation for the animals' emotional value to their owners.

Monensin is an ionophore antibiotic sometimes included in ruminant, swine, and poultry feed that is toxic to horses.

In September 2015 Western Milling LLC voluntarily recalled some batches of Western Blend horse feed after learning that several horses reported to have consumed the feed either became ill or died. The recall covered 50-pound bags, LOT 5251, manufactured by Western Milling on Sept. 8, 2015. The feed was distributed to retailers in California and Arizona.

Prior to the recall, feed from LOT 5251 was sold to Black Fence Farm in Clovis, California. A total of 51 animals at the farm consumed the feed, said Florida-based attorney Andrew Yaffa, who is representing the Black Fence Farm horse owners.

In February, the horse owners filed a complaint in Fresno Superior Court against Western Milling, alleging that the feed manufacturer was aware of the ongoing presence of monensin in its equine products. The complaint also alleged that state and federal regulatory agencies warned Western Milling that its feed was contaminated with monensin and that it “must take corrective measures to ward against cross-contamination between its medicated feed, which contains monensin, and its non-medicated feed which should not include the additive.”

The lawsuit remained pending until June 10 when Yaffa, along with Warren Paboojian of the Fresno, California, firm Baradat & Paboojian, filed a new complaint in connection with the case. Yaffa said the new complaint includes a cause of action that presents the horses as more than property to their owners and alleges that neglect on the part of Western Milling caused the animals' owners to suffer “severe distress and mental suffering.”

“We are aware that horses are much more than property,” Yaffa said.

No one from Western Milling was available for comment.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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