NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits

The makers of Similac and Enfamil, two of the most popular brands of baby formula, are being confronted with product liability lawsuits for their failure to warn parents and doctors of the 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 personal injury claims have been condensed into a multidistrict litigation overseen by the Honorable Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, of the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiffs argue that Abbott and Mead Johnson should be liable for their defective products, which could easily cost them millions of dollars in damages for medical bills, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.

Why Should I 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 of handling a product liability lawsuit. These types of claims can be complex and take a significant amount of time to resolve. A qualified NEC baby formula lawyer will be able to effectively manage legal paperwork, source medical records, and ensure that all critical deadlines are met.

In addition to overseeing the administrative side of an NEC personal injury claim, a product liability lawyer can prove to be a considerable asset in negotiations. Plaintiffs who represent themselves often walk away with a lower settlement than they would have received with the legal assistance of a personal injury attorney. A skilled NEC baby formula attorney will have the experience to leverage a fair settlement from a negligent manufacturer or their insurance carrier, as they will be more familiar with tactics insurance companies use to dismiss or diminish claims. 

Insurance carriers generally want to pay out the lowest amount possible to avoid losing profit, so you will need a capable representative with specific product liability experience to advocate for the value of your damages. These parties are more likely to offer your claim serious consideration if they see that a respected personal injury attorney has taken your claim on.

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 Cleveland Clinic, about 1 out of every thousand premature babies develops NEC, while 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 of NEC in infants so they can seek medical treatment as soon as possible, especially if their child was born prematurely and received supplemental formula like Similac in the hospital. 

Symptoms of NEC in Infants:

  • Lethargy
  • Rejecting food
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bloody feces
  • Green vomit
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unusually rapid or slow heart rate
  • Fever

What Causes NEC in Infants?

Premature babies are the most vulnerable to developing NEC after consuming formula based on 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 because the linings of their intestines are not as well-developed, and their bodies are not prepared to digest cow milk-based. 

Plaintiffs claim that baby formulas like Enfamil and Similac have caused NEC, which leads to holes in 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, which can cause neurological and organ damage, or prove fatal.

Filing 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 basis for these lawsuits is that a product harmed a consumer using it as intended because the product was defective in some avoidable way. This 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 NEC they caused and provide compensation for damages caused by NEC either through a settlement or trial.

What Damages Can I 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, that may mean years of medical intervention. 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, which 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 damages in an NEC baby formula lawsuit:

  • Medical bills
    • Medication
    • Surgery
    • 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 expenses.

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?

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 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 recalls issued in early 2022 were unrelated to the allegations that their cow milk-based formulas cause NEC. They applied to specific batches or 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. The difference is that with multidistrict litigation, the claims are grouped together and tasks like the discovery process are shared, but individuals are still pursuing their own personal lawsuits against the defendant. The NEC baby formula product liability lawsuits have been consolidated 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 Pennslyvania 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 settlements 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 decide on smaller settlements in bellwether trials, the manufacturers may reevaluate the amounts they had been considering and reduce them.

How long do I have to file an NEC baby formula claim?

Time is a factor in personal injury cases, especially for wrongful death claims which only allow for a two-year window to file a claim. Don’t jeopardize your claim by waiting until it’s too late to start the paperwork. The NEC baby formula lawyers of Dolman Law Group Would encourage you to speak with a legal representative as soon as possible, as these claims are well on their way to being validated in court.