Cases & Deals

Wilbur-Ellis pursues insurance coverage for pet food contamination losses and claims

Clients Wilbur-Ellis Company

Jones Day represented Wilbur-Ellis Company, the West Coast's leading agricultural product, chemical and commodity company in proceedings against general liability and D&O insurers for significant exposure on the pet food contamination crisis of 2007. Wilbur-Ellis allegedly imported from China and distributed to major pet food manufacturers rice protein concentrate that was contaminated with melamine. Wilbur-Ellis was sued by consumers in several class actions consolidated into the Pet Food Multi-District Litigation in New Jersey, and claims were asserted against Wilbur-Ellis by a host of others across the United States, including pet food manufacturers (such as Natural Balance Pet Foods and American Nutrition) and distributors. Jones Day represented Wilbur-Ellis in the various suits and claims, and in obtaining insurance recoveries on those claims from AIG/Chartis and other insurers. Jones Day attorneys achieved settlement of the MDL, consumer claims and pet food manufacturer claims—funded by insurers. After concluding the third party claims, Jones Day obtained a first party recovery from "stock throughput" insurers (at Lloyd's) on the losses associated with the importation of contaminated product from China. Jones Day also prevailed in the final phase - recovering full "Cumis" defense expenses which Wilbur-Ellis had incurred on the claims.