Posted by : Irvin Jackson
The premature infant developed NEC after being fed Similac and Enfamil infant formula products while in the hospital.
An Arkansas mother has filed a lawsuit against Abbott and Mead Johnson, claiming her prematurely born child developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after being fed Similac and Enfamil infant formula, alleging the manufacturers knew the cow’s milk products pose a serious risk for preemies but have withheld information from doctors and families for years.
Tyronza Roddy filed the complaint (PDF) earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, pursuing damages on behalf of herself and her infant child, identified only as J.M.R., who suffered catastrophic NEC from Similac and Enfamil.
For decades, Abbott and Mead Johnson have marketed cow’s milk-based formula products specifically for preemie newborns, despite a growing body of medical research that the products may cause vulnerable infants to develop NEC, which is a devastating ailment that causes portions of the intestines to become inflamed or die. This often results in the need for emergency surgery while the preterm newborn is still in the NICU, and can result in death or long-term complications for the remainder of the child’s life.
According to the lawsuit, JMR was born prematurely in June 2006, at only 24 weeks gestation, with a low birth weight of 2 pounds, 11 ounces. He was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit and fed Preemie Enfamil, 24-hour Enfamil with thickit and Similac Neosure, and Pediasure.
Shortly after exposure to the cow’s milk formula, JMR was diagnosed with NEC in July 2006, which the lawsuit blames on the use of Similac and Enfamil infant formula products.
“Following the feeding of Defendant’s Cow’s milk-based Products, JMR has had continuing developmental injuries that are being treated to this day,” Roddy’s lawsuit states. “At the time of JMR’s birth, his mother was unaware of the fact that the Defendants’ cow’s milk-based products he was fed caused or substantially contributed to his development of NEC and continuing developmental injuries.”
December 2022 NEC Lawsuit Update
Roddy’s case will be consolidated with dozens of similar Similac lawsuits and Enfamil lawsuits pending against Abbott and Mead Johnson, which have been centralized in the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer in the Northern District of Illinois, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
There are currently more than 100 NEC lawsuits pending in the federal court system, each raising allegations that manufacturers of cow’s milk-based infant formula placed their desire for profits before consumers’ safety, by specifically marketing formula products for use by preterm newborns, without providing warnings to families or the medical community. However, as lawyers continue to investigate and file claims in the coming year, it is ultimately expected that several thousand lawsuits will be brought by families of infants diagnosed with NEC.
Last month, a group of 12 cases was selected for a NEC lawsuit bellwether pool, which will go through case-specific discovery and prepared for a series of early trial dates expected to begin in 2024.
Although the outcome of these early bellwether trials will not have any binding impact on other claims, they are expected to have a substantial impact on any baby formula NEC settlements the manufacturers may offer to avoid the need for each individual case to be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates in the future.
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