22 Jun, 2022

Lawsuits Over Abbott Infant Formula Recall To Be Considered For Federal Consolidation Next Month

Posted by : Irvin Jackson

The manufacturer faces at least 18 lawsuits over recalled Abbott infant formula pending in federal district courts nationwide, and dozens of additional families are investigating claims.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will decide next month whether to centralize and consolidate all Abbott infant formula recall lawsuits brought by families of babies sickened after they were fed contaminated formula, including Similac, Alimentum and Elecare.

A massive Abbott formula recall was announced in February, after the company admitted it distributed cans of Similac, Alimentum and Elecare contaminated with Salmonella Newport and Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria. This has resulted in illnesses among babies nationwide in recent months, as well as several confirmed deaths.

Within days of the recall, reports began to surface suggesting the company knew about the infant formula contamination problems at its facility since at least September 2021, when the Minnesota Department of Health began investigating a case involving an infant infected with Cronobacter. However, the company continued to distribute products and babies continued to get sick.

Over the past few months, dozens of families have filed individual and class action lawsuits, alleging that Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan manufacturing facility ignored industry safety standards and best practices, endangering infants for the sake of profit.

Infant Formula Recall Lawsuit

Was you baby sickened after being fed recalled Similac, Alimentum or Elecare Infant Formula manufactured by Abbott?

As a growing number of claims began to flood the federal court system, a plaintiff named Arturo Andaluz filed a motion with the U.S. JPML, calling for all of the Abbott baby formula recall lawsuits to be consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida before Judge Beth Bloom for coordinated discovery and pretrial management.

Andaluz was one of the first to join the litigation, filing a Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formula class action lawsuit on March 25, indicating that his child was one of those sickened after consuming the tainted infant formula.

The complaint raised allegations that Abbott failed to take steps that could have prevented the problems, failing to perform due diligence in testing and quality control for formula intended for use among the most vulnerable members of society, which mirrors claims raised in dozens of other lawsuits brought in different U.S. District Courts nationwide.

On June 16, the JPML issued a Notice of Hearing Session (PDF), announcing it will hear oral arguments over whether the cases should be consolidated on July 28, at the U.S. Courthouse in Seattle Washington. At present, the panel plans to hold the hearings in person, but may switch to a teleconference or videoconference format if there are signs of the COVID-19 pandemic surging once again.

Similac Lawsuits Against Abbott

The recall lawsuit came as Abbott already faces dozens of infant formula lawsuits brought by parents of premature babies who developed a devastating gastrointestinal condition, known as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), alleging that the manufacturer has withheld information for decades about the risks associated with Similac and other cow’s milk formula.

In March, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided to centralize the NEC lawsuits over Similac and Enfamil before U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer in the Northern District of Illinois. However, this motion calls for a separate federal multidistrict litigation to be established.

Given common questions of fact and law stemming from the recalled Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, Andaluz argues that consolidating the lawsuits before one federal judge will prevent duplicative discovery, contradictory rulings, and serve the convenience of the court, parties and witnesses. However, if settlements are not reached during pretrial proceedings or following any early bellwether trials, each individual case may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for trial.

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