The lawsuit stemming from puppies that came home from area pet stores with distemper, in some cases dying from the condition, is moving ahead.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Moshe Jacobius in late May ruled in favor of a request from the Happiness Is Pets store chain to dismiss the action, but allowed provisions for filing an amended complaint naming the specific stores being implicated, within a specified time period.
The Chicago-based Clinton Law Firm filed an amended complaint Aug. 28 that narrows the number of entities accused of fraud, deceptive practices and other transgressions related to the sale of several puppies infected with distemper in late 2011.
The action names three branches of the Happiness Is Pets chain, as well as the owner of the business, Ronald Berning.
Initially filed in February 2012 against all 20 stores, the suit now involves eight plaintiffs who bought their puppies at the Naperville, Arlington Heights and Oak Lawn stores.
The suit participants allege that Berning, as owner of the stores, was responsible for the troubles they outline in the action.
In the filing, they assert that customers should have been informed that the young dogs had been given daily medications and had undergone breathing treatments, deworming and other procedures before they were sold.
The complaint also calls “materially misleading and false” store employees’ claims that the establishments do not do business with large-scale breeding operations, often called puppy mills, and that the dogs were healthy while living at the stores.
Naperville attorney David Fish, who is representing Berning and Happiness Is Pets, said about one-third of the plaintiffs withdrew their participation in the suit in the amended action.
The case is due back in Jacobius’ courtroom on Oct. 31, Fish said.
“Our plan is to ask that this be thrown out as well, like the last one,” he said about the case Tuesday.
Aurora resident Bryan Phillips, who bought a dachshund he named Dakota from the chain’s Naperville location on Ogden Avenue, is among the plaintiffs. He told The Sun in June that the legal proceedings are far from over, just as Dakota’s symptoms continue to hound her 20 months after her illness in puppyhood.
“Dakota is still maintaining,” Phillips said in an email a month ago. “She had another vet visit last week and remains on the eye drop medication.”