Wave of Law Suits

A wave of lawsuits filed by cat and dog owners who claim their pets were sickened or killed by anti-flea or tick medication is targeting five New Jersey companies that make or sell the treatment.

Secaucus-based Hartz Mountain Corp., Summit VetPharm LLC of Rutherford, Morristown-based Bayer Healthcare LLC, Merck & Co. Inc. of Whitehouse Station and Sanofi-Aventis Inc. of Bridgewater are named as defendants in suits filed over the last four months.

Most recently, five pet owners filed suit against Hartz Mountain and Summit VetPharm last week, in U.S. District Court in Newark, alleging that their flea or tick treatments contained Pyrethrin, or a synthetic version of the chemical Pyrethroids, which are “known to poison animals.”

Both companies are owned by Sumitomo Corporation of America, the New York-based subsidiary of a Japanese trading and investment company, the suit says.

The suit accuses the companies of negligence, violating New Jersey’s consumer fraud law and liability for creating an “unreasonably dangerous product.” The products named include Hartz Ultra Guard flea and tick drops and Summit VetPharm’s Vectra 3d.

A Hartz spokeswoman said, “Hartz has not been officially served with this suit, and it is company policy not to comment on litigation.” A spokeswoman for Sumitomo Corporation of America, did not respond to a request for comment.

Also named as a defendant is Sergeant’s Pet Care Products Inc. of Nebraska, which makes flea and tick products.

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