by Max Brantley
Good item from Roby Brock at Talk Business. Former Rep. Jeremy Hutchinson is the lead lawyer for plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit in Fort Smith against Wal-Mart and a pet food maker over adulterated pet food that killed a couple of Arkansas cats. The conservative Republican may not be a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association yet, but he's acting like one here, which is a good thing in our view.
I wonder if Hutchinson would have voted for that animal cruelty bill now pending in the legislature. A number of the opponents to pending animal cruelty legislation seem to want the preserve the right to off cats if need be. UPDATE: The always genial Hutchinson called in response to the original post to inform me that he DID vote for the animal cruelty bill that the Farm Bureau beat last session. He said, good quote, "It makes no sense to me that stealing a $500 lawnmower is a felony but nailing my child's puppy to a tree is not."
We don't favor killing cats, though we're not too fond of them. But $5 million in damages seems a touch excessive -- particularly in a state that is about to abolish a workers comp fund that helps keep disabled people employed and which won't pay a death benefit to the parents of workers negligently killed in saw mill accidents. UPDATE: OK, I stretched too far for irony. The damages, and they could be much larger if the case is successful, are not for the singular case in Arkansas, of course, but for the value of all the adulterated pet food that's now worthless, cost of return, various damages, etc.