NEC Lawsuit Update

NEC Lawsuit Update

If your premature baby was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after receiving formula that was derived from cow’s milk, you may have the right to bring a baby formula lawsuit against the company that made it. Parents of premature children suffering from NEC after ingesting Similac and Enfamil formula are filing lawsuits to hold the makers responsible for the damages they have caused.

At Lawsuit Legal News, we strive to provide the latest NEC lawsuit updates in one location so families can keep an eye on the progress of this complicated litigation and decide if they should join. We also compiled a list of NEC Lawsuit FAQs to help answer many of the questions you may have. Be sure to return to this page for the most recent news about the NEC formula lawsuit.

Updates on NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit MDL

In March 2022, almost 80 lawsuits had been filed against Abbott Laboratories (the maker of Similac) and Mead Johnson (the maker of Enfamil) by families with children diagnosed with NEC after receiving these products. As a result, the companies requested the consolidation of all federal cases into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL).

Keep reading to learn the most recent events unfolding in the NEC lawsuit and the steps taken to reach this point in the litigation. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the team of legal professionals at Lawsuit Legal News (LLN).

August 3, 2023 - Judge Allows Plaintiff to Request Punitive Damages

Near the end of July, a federal judge approved a request to seek punitive damages against Abbott Laboratories. Plaintiffs in civil cases are rarely allowed to request punitive damages since these damages are reserved for egregious situations where the goal is to punish the party and set a strong example so other entities don’t act similarly. 

In this case, the plaintiff alleged that Abbott Laboratories deliberately withheld or hid important information from its customers and the medical community about the risks of giving Similac to newborn babies. As a result, the plaintiff’s child experienced lifelong, devastating injuries.

July 1, 2023 - Recently Filed Case Depicts Typical NEC Baby Formula Story

A case that was originally filed in Indiana was brought by a mother who gave birth to her son in April 2003 at only 23 weeks. The infant received Enfamil Premature 24 formula, a cow's milk-based formula. The boy was diagnosed with NEC after developing severe gastrointestinal distress. Surgery was required to remove part of his bowel, and he still faces life-altering complications.

June 16, 2023 - 14 New Cases Join the NEC Formula MDL

By mid-June, the total case count in this growing multi-district litigation was 180 cases. The past 30 days saw one of the largest jumps since the beginning of the MDL.

May 31, 2023 - FTC Investigating Possible Collusion Involving Abbott Laboratories

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into state contract bidding collusion claims among baby formula makers, including Abbott Labs. The formula manufacturers' bids to supply baby formula to the Department of Agriculture's Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), is being scrutinized. 

May 23, 2023 - Personal Injury Cases Survive While Economic Loss Claims Fail

The formula maker defendants filed a motion to dismiss plaintiffs' legal claims related to economic losses. Judge Matthew Kennelly determined the plaintiffs could not prove those claims, and therefore dismissed them which stated the plaintiffs did not receive the value of what they purchased as well as allegations of unsanitary conditions in the manufacturing plants. The judge refused to dismiss the personal injury claims and the allegations that the baby formula contained heavy metals.

May 1, 2023 - Electronic Discovery Hits a Snag

Plaintiffs' counsel filed a motion to compel certain electronic document discovery from Mead because it is not disclosing extensive information, including foreign regulatory documents.

April 28, 2023 - Largest Number of New Cases Filed in a 30-Day Period, Discovery Begins For Bellwether Trials

In the past 30 days, 35 new cases were filed bringing the total number of pending lawsuits to 157. Meanwhile, the first 12 sample cases set for trial (known as bellwether cases) were organized into a pool to begin individual discovery. We expect depositions of witnesses who will share personal facts and doctors who will  provide expert opinions. Four of the twelve cases will be set for trial after the final pre-trial conference that is currently scheduled for March 11, 2024.

March 24, 2023, Shocking Racial Study Released, First NEC Lawsuit Now Expected in 2024

As of March 2023, this MDL contains 122 NEC infant formula lawsuits. Earlier this month, a disturbing new study was released that revealed substantially more African-American infants died from NEC in the past two decades than Caucasian infants. These results might reflect a link between the lack of high-quality medical care and the availability of human breast milk for premature babies located in different cultures around the country.

Since these cases will require extensive investigation, the team at Lawsuit Legal News does not expect the first bellwether case to go to trial until sometime in 2024.

October 22, 2022, NEC Lawsuits Expand to Name Medical Providers as Defendants

Approximately 30 toxic baby formula lawsuits have been sent back to Pennsylvania state courts because they involved Pennsylvania hospitals as defendants. Those plaintiffs blame the doctors and hospitals, in addition to the formula manufacturers, for promoting and providing cow’s milk-based baby formula as safe alternatives to human breast milk for their premature infants despite the ever-growing evidence that cow’s milk formulas can lead to NEC and cause significant injuries.

September 26, 2022, Selecting First Bellwether Trials in the NEC Formula Lawsuit

The selection of bellwether trials in the NEC Multi-District Litigation has begun. The plaintiffs' steering committee was to select four cases, with at least one naming Mead Johnson as a defendant. 

Judge Pallmeyer will randomly choose four cases, including one with Mead Johnson as the defendant and the defense has until November 23, 2022, to choose four cases with the same requirements.

After completing fact discovery on the 12 cases, both sides will each submit two cases for a bellwether trial and Judge Pallmeyer will select the first NEC baby formula bellwether trial. The outcome of one bellwether trial is not binding on any other lawsuit. However, after bellwether trials, the litigants have a better idea about the value of these cases and what juries may do with future cases.

Bellwether trials may convince the defendants that they face significant financial exposure in these baby formula lawsuits at trial. On the other hand, the plaintiffs may decide to reduce their demands and settle for less than initially anticipated.

In previous mass torts, the team at Lawsuit Legal News has seen bellwether trials force the parties to come to terms with the weaknesses in their respective cases. Also, substantial newsworthy bellwether trial verdicts can bring significant media attention which leads these publicly traded companies’ shareholders to panic, often leading to quick settlements.

June 15, 2022, 89 New NEC Lawsuits Filed in the MDL While Several State Court Lawsuits Have Followed

As of June 15, 2022, 89 NEC formula lawsuits have been filed in the Illinois MDL as well as in various state courts throughout the nation. Additionally, plaintiffs from other states have filed lawsuits in Illinois state court, leading the Supreme Court of Illinois to consolidate all NEC baby formula lawsuits filed in Illinois’ state courts into one group with Judge Dennis Ruth in Madison County, Illinois presiding.

April 18, 2022, All Federal NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits are Consolidated into MDL

The Joint Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order consolidating all pending NEC lawsuits filed in U.S. Federal Courts into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL). Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer of the Northern District of Illinois is presiding over the MDL. 

March 1, 2022, NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits Begin

With almost 80 NEC Infant formula lawsuits pending in Federal Courts throughout the country, Abbott Laboratories (maker of Similac) and Mead Johnson (maker of Enfamil) have filed motions to consolidate all NEC lawsuits filed in Federal Court into a Multi-District Litigation or “MDL.”

Abbot suggested all pending federal lawsuits be consolidated with Judge Stephen Underhill in the District of Connecticut because Judge Underhill has extensive knowledge of these lawsuits since some of the first federal toxic baby formula lawsuits were filed in his Court. Oral arguments were set on March 31, 2022.

If your child was tragically harmed by Enfamil or Similac baby formula as a preemie, you may be able to recover compensation for your financial losses. Reach out to the experienced team of mass tort and product liability attorneys at Lawsuit Legal News for more information. Call us anytime at 866-467-0943 or complete this online contact form for a free consultation now.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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