Animal feed maker settles in BSE case
Animal feed maker Ridley Inc. will pay CAN$6 million to settle class action
lawsuits over mad cow disease.
The company said the settlement involves lawsuits filed
in four Canadian provinces, but did not identify them. It has been sued in
Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario -- which had also sought to cover
farmers from six other provinces.
The Quebec lawsuit, filed in April 2005
on behalf of cattle farmers in that province, claims the federal government was
negligent in how it handled cattle imported from Britain in the early
Scientists believe imported British cattle brought bovine
spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, to Canada. The disease was feared
spread to domestic herds by rendered animal protein blended into livestock feed.
Canada banned the use of such feed for cattle in 1997, but has said the cow
involved in the first case -- and 10 discovered since then -- involved animals
born in Canada before the ban was enacted.
Ridley, which operates in
Canada and the United States, said it acted responsibly in producing and
labelling its feed products, and was in compliance with all laws at the time.
"Ridley makes no admission of liability or wrongdoing in the matter and we will
continue to contest any allegation we were responsible for the plaintiffs'
damages," chief executive Steve VanRoekel said in a statement.
will pay the $6 million into a trust fund, to be paid to farmers who join the
lawsuits. It will also allow those suits that were not yet designated class
actions to be so. The deal is subject to court approval in the four provinces.
Ridley will continue to incur legal costs as the cases move forward and will
fund those expenses out of earnings, it said.Related
Judge allows class action over BSE To
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