Pet owners have understandably begun suing Menu Foods over the deaths of pets from tainted pet food. Rat poison has apparently been discovered in the food, but it’s a mystery how the poison got there. Aminopterin, the poison in question, cannot be used for killing rats in the U.S. The FDA had apparently been investigating whether wheat gluten in the food had been contaminated, but spraying rat poison on wheat doesn’t make a lot of sense.
So, taking license to speculate, let’s assume that a good explantion is never found. What happens to these lawsuits? Will this become the res ipsa case that replaces Byrne v. Boadle (the man hit on the head by a barrel of flour that apparently fell out of a building)? Or, will this case test whether (or come to exemplify that) strict products liability is (or is not) truly strict? If we conclude the defendant wasn’t negligent, the only possible action will be strict liability. Recent case law seems to have pushed strict products liability into a form of negligence, but will courts really deny pet owners recovery?