In the past, premature infants would be fed certain prescription baby formulas in the hospital meant to help them thrive. These formulas were developed and manufactured by the companies that produce Similac and Enfamil products.
Unfortunately, some of these formulas made babies very sick, specifically with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Some infants even died from NEC caused by these defective baby formulas. This has led to the development of toxic baby formula lawsuits.
The connection between baby formula and NEC
NEC is a severe gastrointestinal illness that causes inflammation of a baby’s intestines. This can result in permanent neurologic damage or even death. Cow’s milk-based baby formulas have a greater propensity to cause NEC than breastmilk-based baby formulas.
In these toxic baby formula lawsuits, parents claim that the makers of Similac and Enfamil products at issue knew about these risks. Specifically, parents argue that these companies either knew or should have known that cow’s milk could contain a substance known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which causes NEC.
Parents in toxic baby formula lawsuits also claim the companies at issue failed to educate themselves about the hazards of BSE and did not warn the public about these potential dangers. Instead, parents claim, the companies marketed their products as safe for babies to consume.
Subsequent baby formula MDL
In April of 2022, NEC baby formula lawsuits in the United States were combined into one set of multidistrict litigation (MDL).
In MDL, individual cases that share common issues and facts are managed by a single court. The court oversees pretrial motions and the discovery process.
The lawsuits in MDL remain separate, and if they don’t reach a settlement or the court does not dismiss the case in MDL, the case will be returned to its original court for further action. This is different from a class action lawsuit, in which plaintiffs can elect to join in one single lawsuit rather than pursue their own individual claim.
MDL for NEC baby formula lawsuits makes the processing of these claims more efficient, which can benefit courts and parents alike while still holding the companies that manufactured the contaminated formulas responsible for their negligence.