BETH BERAROV and ANNELISA BINDRA, v. ARCHER-DANIELS-MIDLAND COMPANY, and ADM ALLIANCE NUTRITION, INC.

No. 16-cv-07355

CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT AND JURY DEMAND

Introduction

1. The Illinois-based agricultural conglomerate Archer-Daniels-Midland Company,
through its subsidiary ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. (collectively, “ADM”), is one of the world’s
largest manufacturers of animal feed. To cut costs, ADM manufactures horse feed products at
facilities that also produce cattle feed containing monensin, a chemical additive used to increase
weight and market value in cattle.
2. While it may be useful in the cattle business, monensin is poisonous to horses —
a fact well-known to ADM.
3. For this reason, ADM’s choice to manufacture horse feed and supplements in the
same facility as monensin-laced cattle feed (a so-called “cross-species facility”) poses an
extraordinarily high, unacceptable, and undisclosed risk of cross-contamination to purchasers of
its horse feed products.
4. The harm to purchasers caused by this risk of cross-contamination is exacerbated
by the inability of modern veterinary medicine to determine whether a living horse has ingested
monensin. Monensin poisoning is generally only detectable in a live horse within a few days of
consumption; after that, it usually cannot be detected until the horse is dead and a necropsy is
performed. Harm to horses that ingest monensin sometimes occurs gradually, depending on the
level of exposure, as monensin destroys a horse’s heart fibers, creating a potential for sudden and
unexpected heart failure that jeopardizes the lives and safety of both horse and rider.
5. Plaintiffs Beth Berarov and Annelisa Bindra are horse owners who, based on
ADM’s misrepresentations and omissions about the safety of its horse feed and supplements,
unknowingly purchased monensin-contaminated feed and supplements. Several of their horses
died as a result, and others were euthanized because of their exposure to monensin. Those horses
that have survived cannot safely be ridden or worked because of their weakened hearts.
6. Plaintiffs bring this action on their own behalves and on behalf of a class of ADM
horse-feed purchasers, and seek both damages and prospective relief. As damages, Plaintiffs seek
a full refund of the purchase price of ADM’s feed, and compensation for harms caused by
monensin contamination. Prospectively, Plaintiffs seek to require ADM to notify all past
purchasers about the potential for harm caused by its monensin-contaminated horse feed, and
either to require ADM to change its manufacturing processes to eliminate the risk of monensin
contamination, or, alternatively, to require ADM to disclose to purchasers that its feed and
supplements are manufactured in facilities creating a high risk of contamination.
Parties
7. Plaintiff Beth Berarov is a Michigan resident. She purchased ADM products
contaminated with monensin for her own horses, and for others entrusted to her care.
8. Plaintiff Annelisa Bindra is a South Carolina resident. She purchased and/or used
ADM products contaminated with monensin for her horse.
9. Defendant Archer-Daniels-Midland Company is a worldwide food processing
corporation. It is incorporated in Delaware, with a principal place of business in Chicago,
Illinois.
10. Defendant ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ADM.
It is an Illinois corporation with a principal place of business in Quincy, Illinois. ADM produces,
manufactures, advertises, distributes, and markets equine feeds and nutritional supplements
through Alliance Nutrition.
Jurisdiction and Venue
11. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2) because
at least one class member is a citizen of a state different from the Defendants, there are over 100
class members, and the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5 million.
12. Venue is proper here under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because (a) the Defendants have
manufactured for sale, marketed, advertised and sold equine feed and nutritional supplements in
this district; (b) a substantial part of the events, misrepresentations, deceptive practices,
omissions and injuries giving rise to the claims occurred in this district, and (c) conduct that is the subject of the lawsuit occurred in this district.

Facts

A. Monensin is poisonous to horses, even in small amounts.
13. Monensin is an antibiotic growth promoter used as an inexpensive, highly
effective growth-enhancing feed additive for beef and dairy cattle, and also to treat internal
parasites in poultry and other livestock.

14. While over-concentrations of monensin in livestock can be fatal, and monensin is
toxic to humans and requires the use of protective clothing and a respirator, monensin is poison
to horses.
15. Monensin toxicity in horses causes myocardial necrosis or the death of heart cells
and tissue. The ingestion of monensin causes equine heart failure and other major organ damage.
16. Harm to horses that ingest monensin often is difficult to detect and frequently
occurs gradually, depending on the level of exposure, as monensin damages a horse’s heart,
creating a potential for sudden and unexpected heart failure that jeopardizes the lives and safety
of horses, riders, and others who work with and around them.
17. The danger monensin poses to horses is well-known. For example, the United
States Food and Drug Administration requires that livestock feeds containing monensin bear the
following warning on its packaging: “Do not allow horses or other equines access to feed
containing monensin. Ingestion of monensin by horses has been fatal.” 21 C.F.R.
§ 558.355(d)(6).
18. The FDA also recognizes the particular risk of cross-contamination of medical
additives in animal feed:

Where drug carryover from the manufacture of medicated feed results in unsafe
contamination in other feeds, it constitutes a violation of the good manufacturing
practice regulations (21 CFRa). The feeds are adulterated within the meaning of
501(a)(2)(B) of the Act. The adulteration of non-medicated feed with unsafe
contamination is likewise a violation of [good manufacturing practice regulations]
(21 CFRb).1

19. Controlled studies of the exact lethal dose of monensin poisoning in horses would
lead to the death of their subjects, and there are few such studies. One report has estimated that a dose as small as 1.38 milligrams per kilogram of body weight would kill half the test population.
Field observations indicate that consumption of even smaller amounts of monensin is lethal to
horses.2
20. Symptoms of monensin poisoning in horses include colic, incoordination/ataxia,
muscle weakness/paresis, elevated heart rate, dark urine, kidney failure, respiratory distress,
depression, paralysis with anorexia, and intermittent profuse sweating.
21. While these symptoms may be vague and difficult to detect in a live horse
exposed to monensin, ingestion of the chemical causes permanent cardiac and skeletal muscle
damage in horses — typically so severe that an affected horse cannot safely be worked or ridden
again.
22. This means that horse owners, who typically purchase horses to ride or work
them, cannot safely do so if their horse has ingested any amount of monensin. There is no
antidote for monensin poisoning, and treatment cannot cure it, as the damage to the heart is
irreversible.
B. Despite its knowledge of the risk of cross-contamination, ADM manufactures
horse feed and supplements in cross-species facilities that also manufacture
cattle feed with added monensin.
23. Cross-contamination of animal feed occurs when one type of feed processed in a
feed mill remains in the production line and mixes with other types of feed produced in the same
mill.

24. The risk of cross-contamination in multi-species feed mills can be reduced, but
not eliminated. Therefore, if a feed mill produces cattle or other feed containing monensin, and
also produces horse feed, some quantity of monensin will end up in the horse feed.
25. To avoid the risk, other manufacturers use equine-only feed processing facilities or
manufacture horse feed in cross-species facilities that do not use monensin in livestock feed.
26. To cut costs and increase profits, ADM, which knows of the risks of cross-contamination,
manufactures horse feeds and supplements in feed mills that also produce animal
feed with added monensin. These ADM feeds (collectively, the “Products”) may include, but are
not limited to, GROSTRONG vitamin-Mineral products; JUNIORGLO, PRIMEGLO,
SENIORGLO and POWERGLO premium blend equine feeds; ULTRA-FIBER and PATRIOT
fortified equine feeds; and MOORGLO and HEALTHY GLO premium high fat supplements.
C. Because ADM knows that horse owners wish to purchase safe and healthful
feeds and supplements, ADM misrepresents the Products’ safety and
healthfulness, fails to disclose the risks posed by its manufacturing processes,
and misleads customers.
27. ADM has spent millions of dollars to build the trust and confidence of those who
purchase its products.
28. ADM knows that horse owners wish to purchase safe and effective horse feeds
and supplements.
29. Despite this knowledge, ADM makes misleading, false, and deceptive statements
in its promotional materials and packaging, and it fails to disclose that the Products are
manufactured through processes creating an unacceptably high risk of monensin contamination.
30. In print advertisements, ADM claims that its horse feed and supplements are
healthy, formulated for the specialized needs of horses, purchased by concerned and successful horse owners, and consumed by exceptionally healthy horses. ADM uses the misleading, false, and deceptive tagline, “Doing what’s right for the horse.” (Ex. 1.)

 

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Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Opposition to ADM’s Motion to Dismiss