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Nation in brief: Deal proposed in pet food deaths

Wed., April 2, 2008

A year after tainted pet food led to the deaths of thousands of dogs and cats nationwide, a proposed settlement was announced Tuesday that would resolve more than 100 class-action lawsuits filed by pet owners in the United States and Canada.

Details of the “agreement in principle” were not disclosed during the hearing in U.S. District Court in Camden, N.J. The tentative settlement followed months of negotiations between lawyers for companies that manufactured or distributed the poisonous chow and lawyers for pet owners, who had sought compensation for out-of-pocket costs including veterinarian and medicine bills and burial fees.

The lawsuits were filed in the wake of massive recalls of dog and cat food last spring.

While owners watched helplessly as their pets got sick and, in numerous cases, died, more than 120 varieties were pulled off the market.

The primary target was Menu Foods Inc., the Canada-based manufacturer of about 100 of the tainted product lines. But other companies that manufactured or distributed the food also are defendants.

Pierre, South Dakota

Abortion foes file initiative petitions

Abortion opponents in South Dakota filed petitions this week that are likely to put an initiative on November’s ballot calling for a near-ban on abortion, renewing a contentious fight over a similar proposal in 2006.

The group said that Monday it turned in three times the number of signatures needed to qualify an initiative that would ban abortion in most cases.

Unlike the 2006 law, however, it includes exceptions to allow the procedure when necessary to protect the health of a woman and in cases of rape or incest.

The 2006 proposal, rejected by 56 percent of voters, would have allowed abortion only to save a woman’s life.

The new language was drafted by South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long, state Rep. Roger Hunt, R, and 20 other lawyers. As with the 2006 initiative, passage would probably trigger a lawsuit that could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court and provide an opportunity to reconsider its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

The sponsors said their polls show that a majority of South Dakotans support the initiative with the exceptions.


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