A consumer fraud suit filed against a Chicago pet store chain has hit a speed bump, but will continue according to those associated with the case. Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius has dismissed the case against Happiness Is Pets but is giving plaintiffs in the class action suit until the end of the month to file an amended complaint.
The Happiness is Pets chain was sued last year by 10 plaintiffs after they purchased puppies at the store around Christmas 2011 that came down with distemper. All but one of those puppies – a dachshund named Dakota – died from the outbreak and several dogs that hadn’t been sold were euthanized when they came down with distemper.
More specifics needed
The judge dismissed the case without prejudice saying that the defendants failed to name specific targets, writing that “plaintiffs have lumped all defendants together in an apparent attempt to hold each liable for the others’ conduct.” A total of 18 stores were named in the lawsuit and the judge has asked attorneys for the plaintiffs to narrow that to only the stores that sold the sick dogs.
The amended complaint was due last week, but the judge has granted the defendants until July 26 to file the motion. According to Bryan Phillips, who purchased Dakota and is part of the lawsuit, plaintiffs continue to hear from other people who have purchased sick puppies from various Happiness is Pets locations.
The suit alleges that Happiness Is Pets commits consumer fraud by misrepresenting the origin of the puppies it sells and is seeking damages from the stores in the chain along with owner Ronald Berning. It states that Happiness is Pets misleads consumers by saying that its puppies come from small-scale breeders when they actually come from “some of the most despicable and horrendous puppy mills in the Midwest.”
Phillips says the plaintiffs are continuing their fight and are just waiting for updated information to be filed in court. Dakota was purchased shortly before Christmas in 2011 and she quickly became very ill. She was diagnosed with distemper, a contagious and deadly disease.
Happiness Is Pets is not the only suburban pet store chain facing a lawsuit. Just last month, Furry Babies was sued in LaSalle County Circuit Court claiming that the store sold sick puppies from puppy mills to unsuspecting consumers in violation of state consumer protection laws. The lawsuit is the culmination of a 2 ½ year investigation conducted by the non-profit group The Puppy Mill Project after the group received numerous complaints from consumers who purchased sick dogs at the store.
More sick dogs
Although both stores are facing lawsuits, consumers are still purchasing pets at various locations. Just two weeks ago, reports surfaced of a puppy diagnosed with parvo that was sold at the Furry Babies at the Fox Valley Mall. There are also reports of a very sick puppy sold in the last week at one of the Happiness is Pets locations.
Illinois has recently passed a puppy lemon law that provides some consumer protection when consumers purchase sick animals from pet stores. Phillips and Dakota have been campaigning in favor of the bill that awaits Governor Pat Quinn’s signature.
Read about the Furry Babies lawsuit.
Read about additional complaints against Furry Babies.
Read about Dakota.
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