Lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of popular baby formula brands Similac and Enfamil are moving forward in the court system.
Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories are under fire from parents whose premature infants, or “preemies,” developed a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC); some passed away. The parents allege in NEC baby formula lawsuits that manufacturers knew the risks of giving cow’s milk-based formula to premature babies. They still promoted their preemie-specific products as safer than human breast milk.
Babies born before their full term are highly susceptible to many health problems, including underdeveloped digestive systems. NEC is an inflammatory disease infecting intestinal tissues that affect one in 1,000 preemies, with a mortality rate of up to 50%.
Cow’s milk is more difficult for all babies to digest than breast milk, but the weakened state of preemies makes it especially hard for them. While baby formula is a generally safe and nutritious choice for healthy babies, it has been shown to increase the risk of NEC in preemies. A U.S. Surgeon General report found that premature formula-fed babies are 138% more likely to develop NEC; an Indiana University study reported that babies fed preemie-specific formula were twice as likely to contract the disease as those fed donor breast milk.
Babies with NEC present with bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, bloody stool, trouble breathing, low heart rate and blood pressure, and other symptoms. If treatment doesn’t begin quickly, NEC leads to sepsis and death.
Update on NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits
Parents are suing baby formula companies for negligent misrepresentation, selling a dangerous product, failing to warn about health risks, and wrongful death. In December 2022, baby formula lawsuits were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Illinois. An MDL is a series of similar lawsuits combined under one judge and district to speed up trial proceedings.
The court selected individual NEC cases for bellwether (test) trials. These will take place early next year to give the plaintiffs and defendants an idea of how a jury may respond and what level of compensation may be at stake.
If your premature newborn was fed Enfamil or Similac preemie formula and developed NEC, even in a mild case, you have the right to seek legal action against those whose negligence harmed your child. Babies who survive NEC often never fully recover and are saddled with chronic health issues like cognitive impairment and short bowel syndrome. If Mead Johnson and Abbott are found responsible in NEC lawsuits, plaintiffs could receive significant baby formula settlements to help with current and future medical bills, physical/mental/emotional pain and suffering, missed work, and more.
Winning a large-scale lawsuit against powerful manufacturers is challenging without an experienced dangerous product attorney who can review your babies’ medical records and tell you whether you have a case. If you have a baby formula case, a lawyer can do all the work required for a successful case while you focus on your child.
What to Consider When Hiring an NEC Baby Formula Lawyer
Having to fight for the rights of your sick child, especially in a wrongful death scenario, is devastating enough. Filing an NEC baby formula lawsuit can secure the financial compensation needed to survive this terrible time, but it can also hold negligent manufacturers responsible. A successful lawsuit can even help future children by forcing baby formula companies to tighten their quality standards and be more transparent with consumers.
An experienced NEC baby formula lawyer can help you achieve this, but there are thousands of personal injury attorneys to choose from. This very personal choice can be overwhelming, so here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin your search.
Free case review. Any reputable personal injury law firm will give you a free and confidential consultation. These are designed for the firm to get to know you and the details of your individual case, as well as for you to decide whether they are a good fit for you and your family. This will establish a trusting working relationship going forward. If your gut tells you it isn’t a match, you’re under no obligation to continue.
Ask as many questions as you want. For example, how often will you be updated during the process, and how easy is it to get in touch? What do they expect from you as a client? Will you be working with the attorney you meet with or someone else? These are just a few of the things you’ll want answered.
Legal costs. Personal injury law firms should never charge you money upfront. They work on contingency, which means they only get paid when you win, and their fees come from a percentage of the settlement amount. Make sure this percentage is clear in your contract.
Past client reviews. Don’t rely solely on the firm’s website for reviews, as they will only post those that paint them in a positive light. Search for unbiased reviews online and ask to contact some of the firm’s previous clients. If they are a reputable firm, they won’t hesitate to provide you with this information.
Time and resources. If the firm you’re considering has a revolving door of clients and case files piling up, they may not have adequate time to give your case the attention it deserves. Ask how much time your lawyer will have for your case. Find out what resources they have at their disposal, such as access to expert witnesses, strong relationships with healthcare professionals, and investigators to collect evidence.
Successful related cases. With NEC baby formula lawsuits already headed for court, hiring an attorney with a successful track record in trials is crucial. The lawyer should also have experience specifically in dangerous products and wrongful death. If the firm has tried other baby formula or baby product cases, this is even better. They will already know what evidence to gather, what witnesses to call, and how to deal with large-scale companies like Abbott and Mead Johnson that have their own powerful legal representation.
You deserve an attorney who not only understands the ins and outs of your NEC baby formula case but will treat it with the urgency and sensitivity it deserves. Using the above as a guide will help you choose the right NEC baby formula attorney and get the justice you and your baby deserve.