Latest Updates in Similac and Enfamil NEC Lawsuits
As of February 2024, there were 389 active baby formula necrotizing enterocolitis lawsuits pending in Illinois under U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer. So far, there have been no jury verdicts or global settlements in MDL number 3026.
Following the completion of discovery, the first NEC bellwether test trials may begin in the first few months of 2024. Discussions regarding jury selection and procedures for these trials are underway.
- February 2024: A total of 454 baby formula lawsuits had been filed in the MDL, with 389 cases still pending.
- November 2023: On Nov. 3, 2023, Justice Pallmeyer signed an order noting that Mead Johnson’s motions to dismiss are entered and continued for briefing. The plaintiffs’ responses should be filed on or before Jan. 6, 2024.
- October 2023: The judge signed an order outlining the definition of terms and procedures the plaintiffs and defendants agreed to for how NEC pathology reports and expert analysis will be handled.
- July 2023: Judge Pallmeyer held a status conference.
- April 2023: Lawyers were negotiating how discovery should proceed.
- March 2023: Science Day was scheduled for May 3, 2023. Both sides present the science of NEC and its link to cow’s milk baby formula before the court.
- August 2022: The Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation consolidated about 97 lawsuits over NEC claims in Illinois MDL 3026.
Judge Matthew Kennelly presides over a separate Abbott MDL, 3037. This MDL is also in Illinois and is related to bacterial contamination of Abbott’s baby formulas. It does not have anything to do with NEC claims.
What Are NEC Baby Formula Lawsuits?
NEC baby formula lawsuits are claims parents filed because infants developed necrotizing enterocolitis after consuming Similac or Enfamil cow’s milk baby formula. Necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, is a serious gastrointestinal disease that causes intestinal tissue death and could lead to serious health problems or death.
Studies have shown premature babies fed cow’s milk baby formula have an increased risk of developing NEC. An NEC lawsuit for baby formula claims baby formula makers Abbott and Mead Johnson knew about the risk but failed to warn the public and continued to sell the dangerous products.
In April 2022, judges consolidated Similac and Enfamil lawsuits from across the country into multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of Illinois under MDL number 3026.
These cases all claim that “cow’s milk-based infant formula products marketed under the Similac and Enfamil brand names have a higher propensity to cause necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in infants born prematurely than other, allegedly safer alternatives,” according to the case transfer order.
Who Qualifies to File an NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit?
Parents or caregivers of premature babies who developed NEC after consuming Similac or Enfamil may qualify to file an NEC baby formula lawsuit.
Babies may have consumed Similac or Enfamil in the hospital. Parents may have taken formula from the hospital or bought formula after bringing their preemie home.
Lawyers encourage parents and caregivers to keep all medical records, receipts and formula packaging for evidence in their case. If you don’t know if your baby was fed Similac or Enfamil, your lawyer may be able to help get this information.
How Much Will Baby Formula Lawsuits Be Worth?
The exact worth of Enfamil and Similac baby formula lawsuits has yet to be determined, though lawyers speculate the value could be in the millions.
Some juries have awarded anywhere from $1.5 million to $23 million in older NEC cases, though these cases have mostly been against medical providers and not baby formula manufacturers. A few lawyers have used these cases to speculate the value of NEC baby formula lawsuits.
After the first bellwether cases happen in 2024, lawyers will have a better idea of how much baby formula cases could be worth. Jury verdicts after bellwether trials could lead to global baby formula settlements.
However, it’s important to note that parents and caregivers aren’t guaranteed any specific amount of compensation. How much a baby formula case is worth may be influenced by the severity of injuries, cost of financial or physical damages and other loses.
Similac and Enfamil Baby Formula Recalls
Similac and Enfamil baby formulas have not been recalled for NEC. However, Abbott issued a baby formula recall for potential bacterial contamination in February 2022 after some babies died from infections.
The recall included certain lots of EleCare, Similac and Alimentum baby formulas from Abbott’s factory in Sturgis, Michigan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found several strains of Cronobacter sakazakii at the plant during its March 2022 inspection, but it didn’t find any bacteria in product samples.
Cronobacter can cause serious illness in infants, including death. Symptoms of Cronobacter infection include jaundice, irritability, changes in temperature, grunting breaths, poor feeding and excessive crying. Contact your child’s physician right away if you suspect infection.
Parents can see if their formula is included in the recall by entering lot numbers on Abbott’s recall website.
7 Cited Research Articles
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- U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. (2024, February 1). MDL Statistics Report - Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District. Retrieved from https://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/Pending_MDL_Dockets_By_Actions_Pending-February-1-2024.pdf
- U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. (2023, November 3). Order to Dismiss. Retrieved from http://www.pacer.gov
- U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. (2023, October). Order Regarding Pathology. Retrieved from http://www.pacer.gov
- Abbott Laboratories. (2022, August 26). Abbott is Restarting Similac Production at Sturgis. Retrieved from https://www.abbott.com/corpnewsroom/nutrition-health-and-wellness/abbott-update-on-powder-formula-recall.html
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2022, August 1). FDA Investigation of Cronobacter Infections: Powdered Infant Formula (February 2022). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/fda-investigation-cronobacter-infections-powdered-infant-formula-february-2022
- Reuters. (2022, June 22). FDA gets complaint of one more infant death related to baby formula. Retrieved from https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/fda-complaint-one-more-infant-death-related-baby-formula
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, May 24). Cronobacter and Powdered Infant Formula Investigation. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cronobacter/outbreaks/infant-formula.html