The makers of Similac and Enfamil, two of the most popular brands of baby formula, are facing hundreds of possible product liability lawsuits for their failure to warn parents and doctors about the health risks associated with their products. Infants across the U.S. have developed a serious gastrointestinal condition known as Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) after consuming certain baby formula products.
Families with infants who have developed NEC are now seeking compensation from the baby formula makers, Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson. These NEC baby formula lawsuits have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) overseen by the Honorable Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, of the Northern District of Illinois.
The injured plaintiffs argue that Abbott and Mead Johnson should be held liable for their defective products which have caused serious harm to infants. If successful, these product liability personal injury claims could easily cost the formula makers millions of dollars in economic damages to pay for medical bills and lost wages, along with non-economic losses including pain and suffering.
Why You Should Hire an NEC Baby Formula Lawyer
When caring for a sick infant or mourning the loss of a baby, the last thing you need is the additional responsibility and stress of handling a product liability lawsuit. These types of claims are complex and require a significant amount of time to prepare, present, and resolve. A qualified NEC baby formula lawyer can effectively manage the necessary legal paperwork, gather medical records, and ensure that all critical deadlines are met on your behalf.
In addition to overseeing the administrative side of an NEC personal injury claim, an experienced product liability lawyer can prove to be a considerable asset in settlement negotiations. Plaintiffs who represent themselves often wind up with a smaller settlement than they would have received if they had sought the legal assistance of a personal injury attorney.
A skilled NEC baby formula attorney has the experience to leverage a fair settlement from a negligent manufacturer or their insurance carrier because they are more familiar with the tricks and tactics insurance companies use to dismiss or diminish claims. A tenacious injury lawyer will also ensure your settlement takes into account future anticipated expenses and personal losses, not just current out-of-pocket costs.
Insurance carriers generally want to pay the lowest amount possible to resolve a claim. In this way, they avoid losing profit and protect the company’s bottom line. When facing large corporations, their insurance companies, and vast legal teams, you will need a capable representative with specific product liability experience to advocate for the value of your damages. Also, these corporate entities are more likely to seriously consider your claim when they see that a respected personal injury attorney is advocating on your behalf.
What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe gastrointestinal condition where the lining of the intestine deteriorates due to inflammation. According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 1 out of every thousand premature babies develops NEC. However, this number is only 1 out of 10,000 for full-term infants. In some tragic cases, this condition has been fatal.
Parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms of NEC in infants so they can seek medical treatment as soon as possible. This is especially important if their child was born prematurely and received supplemental formula such as Similac or Enfamil in the hospital.
Possible Symptoms of NEC in Infants:
- Rejecting food
- Abdominal swelling
- Bloody feces
- Green vomit
- Difficulty breathing
- Unusually rapid or slow heart rate
What Causes NEC in Infants?
Premature babies are the most vulnerable to developing NEC after consuming formula made with cow’s milk. Hospitals often use formula to bolster premature infants’ nutrition and help them gain weight. Research currently indicates that premature infants are likely more susceptible to developing NEC because the linings of their intestines are not as well-developed, and their bodies are not prepared to digest cow’s-milk-based formula.
The plaintiffs in the NEC baby formula lawsuits claim that baby formulas like Enfamil and Similac have caused NEC, which leads to holes in their infants’ intestines. When a hole develops, bacteria can spread and cause a deadly infection. Babies have underdeveloped immune systems and are therefore less capable of fighting off an infection. These combined health issues can cause neurological and organ damage, or even death.
Who is Eligible to File an NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit?
Parents with children that have developed NEC due to baby formula consumption may be able to seek compensation for damages by filing a product liability lawsuit. The manufacturers, designers, and even distributors of NEC-causing baby formula may be considered liable for the harm their products caused.
Product liability is an area of personal injury law that involves consumers filing claims against the makers of defective products that caused them harm. The plaintiffs must prove a legal basis for these lawsuits. Usually the allegations involve a product that harmed a consumer who was using it as intended, but the product was defective in some avoidable way. The claimed defect can exist because of defective design, defective manufacturing, or defective labeling.
An NEC baby formula lawsuit can ensure baby formula makers are held accountable for the harm they caused to infants and their families. These cases request compensation for the families’ losses caused by NEC either through a settlement or trial.
What Damages Can You Recover in an NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit?
NEC can do irreparable damage to the bodies of infants, particularly those that are already medically fragile and underweight. In many cases, these children may need years of medical intervention or a lifetime of care. This can take a physical and emotional toll on the child and their caretakers. In a product liability lawsuit, families of infants who developed NEC from baby formula can seek compensation for the economic and non-economic damages they incurred.
Economic damages have an established dollar value since they are financial in nature and usually easily documented. This makes compensation more straightforward. Non-economic damages are calculated on a more subjective basis, as they extend to reflect emotional or intangible losses that may differ in value based on the circumstances of the case.
Examples of economic damages in an NEC baby formula lawsuit:
- Medical bills
- Hospital stays
- Job-related losses
- Lost wages
- Missed promotions
- Wrongful death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering
Your infant may suffer from life-long deficits due to the negligence of baby formula manufacturers, so you need to think in the long term when it comes to determining the full extent of your losses.
For example, will your child have neurological deficits or difficulty eating? Will you or your spouse have to change jobs or even quit to be a caretaker for your child? Can you afford to miss work to take your child to specialists’ appointments? What kind of impact will this have on your mental health?
Many of these concerns relate to non-economic damages that may be requested in a product liability lawsuit.
Examples of non-economic damages in an NEC baby formula lawsuit:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of family relationships
- Emotional distress, anxiety, and depression
- Other personal and emotional losses related to facing life with NEC
Costs like these can accumulate quickly. A product liability attorney who has handled NEC baby formula cases will be able to give you a better idea of the total value of your damages.
Frequently Asked Questions About the NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits
Have Similac or Enfamil baby formulas been recalled over NEC concerns?
No. The formula recalls issued in early 2022 were unrelated to the allegations that their cow’s-milk-based formulas cause NEC. Those recalls applied to specific batches of tainted formula or affected manufacturing locations. Abbott and Mead Johnson both claim that their baby formulas do not constitute any more risk to premature infants than breast milk and refused to recall their products.
What is multidistrict litigation, and why are the NEC baby formula lawsuits consolidated into one?
Multidistrict litigations are similar to class action lawsuits. Both seek to ease the strain on court resources by combining similar claims or plaintiffs. A class action is one lawsuit with multiple parties who will all participate in the final outcome when the case is decided.
In multidistrict litigation, the claims are grouped together and tasks like the evidence discovery process and motion hearings are shared, but individuals are still pursuing their own personal lawsuits against the defendant.
The NEC baby formula product liability lawsuits have been consolidated into an MDL located in the Northern District of Illinois because the plaintiffs have comparable injuries to one another and share claims of negligence against certain manufacturers.
In the case of the NEC baby formula lawsuits, certain subsets of the multidistrict litigation have already been remanded to their original jurisdictions. For example, the presiding judge in the NEC multidistrict litigation has already sent nearly 30 claims back to state courts in Pennsylvania because they pertained to negligent hospitals who encouraged parents to use the dangerous formula, rather than the manufacturers of the baby formula.
What kind of impact will the bellwether trials have on settlement for other NEC baby formula families?
As it stands now, cases for bellwether trials are being selected. This will give both sides an idea of what to expect in terms of settlements. If juries for the test cases award larger verdicts than manufacturers like Abbott Laboratories and Mead and Johnson had been prepared to offer, they may be more eager to settle quickly to avoid making huge payouts. However, if the juries return with smaller verdicts in bellwether trials, the manufacturers may reevaluate the amounts they were considering and reduce them.
How long do I have to file an NEC baby formula claim?
Time is always a factor in personal injury cases, especially for wrongful death claims which only allow for a two-year window of opportunity to file a claim. Don’t jeopardize your claim by waiting until it’s too late to start the process.
Our NEC baby formula lawyers can listen to your personal story and determine when the statute of limitations will run on your claim. We definitely encourage you to speak with an experienced legal representative as soon as possible to avoid missing your opportunity to request the compensation you deserve.
Reach Out to a Dedicated NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit Lawyer Today
If your infant developed NEC after being fed cow’s milk formula, you may be facing a medical nightmare for some time. You don’t have to face these issues alone. Our experienced legal team can explain your rights and the potential for financial compensation in your unique situation. Call us today at 866-535-9515 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation and begin your journey to peace of mind.