Our lawyers are pursuing Enfamil and Similac baby formula lawsuits for premature babies who suffered necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in all 50 states. There is strong evidence that cow milk in these formulas contributes to premature newborn babies developing NEC.
The basis for these baby formula lawsuits is that research has long shown that cow milk is associated with NEC and the manufacturers of Similac and Enfamil should have warned doctors and parents of the risks.
Our attorneys last updated this page on August 1, 2022. Come back here for all of the latest NEC formula lawsuit updates.
Failure to Warn of Cow Milk in Similac and Enfamil
August 1, 2022 Update: The medical community continues to slide towards the plaintiffs' view of baby formula for preemies.As the number on NEC lawsuits against formula manufacturers continues to rise, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published an updated opinion statement urging parents to avoid infant formula when human breast milk is an alternative. The AAP is encouraging hospitals to stop allowing formula makers to promote their products in maternity wards, which is a big part of the problem.
July 15, 2022 Update: Only nine victims filed an NEC lawsuit that was transferred into the Preterm Infant Nutrition MDL over the last month. There are now 97 NEC baby formula class action lawsuits pending in federal court. Many NEC attorneys are still filing NEC formula lawsuits in state court in Illinois.
July 1, 2022 Update: The judge in the federal NEC baby formula class action lawsuit has indicated that she wants to allow plaintiffs to file NEC formula lawsuits against Abbott and Mead Johnson directly in the MDL. Previously, Judge Pallmeyer had been hesitant to permit direct filings which meant new plaintiffs had to file in their home district and have the case transferred into the MDL. A proposed order allowing direct filings issued earlier this week. Mead Johnson filed an objection to the proposed order. Which is nonsense. Even Abbott did not object.
June 17, 2022 Update: Thirty-seven new plaintiffs were added in the first month of the newly formed preterm infant formula NEC MDL in the Northern District of Illinois (Abbott Laboratories Preterm Infant Nutrition Prod. Liab. Lit. – MDL No. 3026). This means that the size of the MDL doubled in the first 30 days. Our NEC formula lawyers expect to see an average of 30-60 new cases added to the MDL each month from now through the end of 2022. The pace of new lawsuits added to class action will likely slow down in 2023.
June 6, 2022 Update: The federal baby formula class action lawsuit is moving forward. The judge in the newly formed Baby Formula NEC MDL (Hon. Rebecca R. Pallmeyer) recently issued a 2nd Case Management Order finalizing appointments of the Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel, Liaison Counsel, and Steering Committee. These NEC lawyers will act on behalf of all the plaintiffs involved in the NEC forumla class action lawsuit moving forward. Meanwhile, the MDL continues to grow exponentially, with new cases being transferred from courts across the country. Since May 16th, an additional 26 new cases have been transferred. This brings the total number of pending NEC baby formula lawsuits in the class action up to 78.
May 23, 2022 Update: The baby formula NEC class action lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois (In re: Abbott Laboratories, et al., Preterm Infant Nutrition Prod. Liab. Lit.- MDL No. 3026) is officially underway. Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer has been assigned to the MDL class action. The judge held her opening status conference last week on May 19. Within the next two weeks, Judge Pallmeyer is expected to announce her selections for the plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel, Liaison Counsel, and leadership committee. A total of 52 cases are pending in the MDL as of May 16, 2022. That number is expected to triple by next month.
May 4, 2022 Update: There are now three baby formula class action lawsuits. There is a baby formula NEC class action in federal court. Illinois state court also has roped off NEC lawsuits filed in that state from all over the country. We also have a Similac recall class action lawsuit that does not involve NEC. All three pieces of litigation are moving forward.
April 11, 2022 Update: We now have an NEC baby formula class action lawsuit in federal court. The JPML issued a transfer order which consolidates all pending NEC infant formula lawsuits into a new mass tort MDL: In re: Abbott Laboratories, et al., Preterm Infant Nutrition Products Liab. Lit. (MDL No. 3026). The NEC formula MDL has been assigned to Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, Chief Judge of the Northern District of Illinois. Illinois was the venue preferred by the plaintiffs' NEC baby formula lawyers. The defendants (Abbott and Mead Johnson) were ironically pushing to leave their home state and put the MDL NEC class action in Connecticut. Now every NEC infant formula lawsuit in federal court will be transferred into the MDL for consolidated pretrial proceedings.
April 1, 2022 Update: Just over 40 NEC formula lawsuits have been filed against Mead and Abbott in federal courts over the last year. Twelve of these NEC lawsuits in federal court were filed in March 2022. As we discuss below, there is also a mini-class action NEC lawsuit in Illinois.
March 31, 2022 Update: The Supreme Court of Illinois previously granted the request to consolidate a group of about 20 NEC formula cases pending in Illinois state courts before a single judge (Dennis Ruth) in Circuit Court for Madison County. This effectively created a mini-MDL NEC class action lawsuit at the state court level. Now, however, Abbott is seeking to have the consolidated cases transferred from Madison County to either Cook County (Chicago) or Lake County, under the doctrine of forum nonconveniens (inconvenient forum).
Why do you care about the Illinois baby formula lawsuits if you live in California, Texas, New York, or any other state outside of Illinois? Because many NEC baby formula lawsuits will file lawsuits in Illinois even if the claim arose in another jurisdiction.
March 1, 2022 Update: It looks like an NEC baby formula class action lawsuit that will house all federal court NEC lawsuits is coming. The only question is whether the class action will be housed in Connecticut or Illinois.
Last week, Mead Johnson, the maker of Enfamil, advised the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) that it was in favor of consolidating the NEC lawsuits into a new NEC MDL class action. In January 2022, Abbott, the manufacturer of Similac, filed a petition with the JPML requesting the formation of a new MDL for the consolidation of all NEC infant formula lawsuits in the federal courts.
Abbott's attorneys are requesting the District of Connecticut, while lawyers for NEC plaintiffs' lawyers favor the Northern District of Illinois where Abbott is headquartered.
February 20, 2022 Update: As if Abbott did not have enough problems with Similac in the NEC lawsuits, the FDA announced a massive Similac recall impacting thousands of children.
February 11, 2022 Update: As pressure from NEC lawsuits continues to grow, baby formula manufacturers face a new challenge. Two consumer protection groups filed a petition last week asking the FDA to ban the use of certain additives in infant formula. The petition seeks to prevent companies like Abbott and Mead Johnson from using additives (known as nanomaterials) in their products because of the potential health impact of these ingredients.
February 1, 2022 Update: In December, NEC baby formula lawyers filed a motion asking the Supreme Court of Illinois to consolidate all pending preemie NEC infant formula lawsuits in the state into a single action in Madison County.
The court granted motions by defendants Abbott and Mead Johnson for an extension of time to respond until this month to respond to the consolidation request. Will Mead and Abbott ultimately oppose the request? Both companies are based in the Chicago area. Combining the Illinois cases into a single consolidated action would be much more efficient than defending potentially hundreds of NEC baby formula lawsuits separately.
Why so much interest in the Illinois NEC cases? Many attorneys plan to file all their NEC Similac and Enfamil baby formula lawsuits in Illinois. So if you are in New York, California, Texas, or anywhere in the U.S., your NEC lawsuit might be filed in Illinois.
January 3, 2022: Normally, our lawyers get fewer calls from prospective clients over the holidays. But this holiday, the number of NEC baby formula lawsuit clients remained steady. So this litigation continues to grow. There are deadlines to sue and the statute of limitations in these cases is complicated. So if you have a claim, you want to act quickly.
December 18, 2021 Update: A large number of infant formula NEC lawsuits are being filed in Illinois state court. Illinois has become a common venue for NEC lawsuits because Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson are headquartered in Chicago. This week, lawyers for some of the plaintiffs in these state court NEC lawsuits filed a motion asking the Supreme Court of Illinois to consolidate the NEC cases before a single judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings. This is the Illinois state court equivalent of an MDL request.
The motion identified 33 NEC infant formula lawsuits currently pending in Illinois civil courts (31 in Madison County). All 33 of these NEC cases were filed in the last 10 months, indicating the growing momentum behind the NEC formula litigation. Consolidation of these cases in Illinois could be followed by the creation of a national baby formula MDL for NEC lawsuits in federal court. This could help clear a path towards an eventual global settlement for these claims.
December 10, 2021 Update: A new study published last month further confirms that feeding cow-milk-based formula to premature infants dangerously increases their risk of NEC while also slowing their development. A research team from McMaster University in Ontario published their findings in the journal Pediatrics and Child. The study found that when premature babies are fed infant formula instead of breast milk, newborn preemies are three times more likely develop NEC and be sent to the NICU. This study offers further support and confirmation for the link between bovine infant formulas and NEC.
December 5, 2021 Update: As more victims look to file an NEC lawsuit against infant formula manufacturers, the maker of Similac (Abbott Laboratories) is now defending a related consumer class-action lawsuit alleging it made false and misleading comparisons between Similac Pro Advance and breast milk. Plaintiffs filed this new necrotizing enterocolitis lawsuit on November 20, 2021, in the Southern District of Illinois where many of these claims will be filed. The NEC baby milk lawsuit asserts various consumer fraud claims against Abbott based on false and deceptive marketing claims that suggested Similac formula provides the same health and development benefits as human breast milk.
This class action suit seeks refunds for the thousands of parents of newborns who bought Similac formula based on the false assumption that it would give their baby the same type of immune system and developmental support as breast milk. This newborn NEC lawsuit highlights some of the questionable marketing strategies pursued by Abbott in support of their Similac formula products. This suit will serve as a nice support piece to the NEC infant formula lawsuits alleging actual injuries and death.
Many parents out there who have prematurely born babies who suffered from NEC would never think of calling an infant formula lawyer because they do not know of the connection between these infant formulas and NEC.
In fact, for years malpractice lawyers brought medical malpractice lawsuits indirectly making the same claims attorneys are now making in the infant formula lawsuits. Those malpractice suits alleged that the doctors should not have decreased feedings for premature babies with NEC and that the doctors should have stopped providing cow-based milk products because it is known to cause NEC.
The doctor's response in many of these malpractice lawsuits is that they did not know of the medical literature connecting Similac and Enfamil and NEC. Plaintiffs' lawyers finally connected the dots and realized that infant formula lawsuits made sense because parents and doctors were never properly informed of the NEC risks.
Even now in 2022, after so many victims have filed an NEC lawsuit, ask a pediatrician whether baby formula can cause NEC. You will get a mixed response.Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious and potentially fatal disease primarily occurring in premature infants. What happens is bacteria invades the intestinal wall. This leads to inflammation and infection. NEC can cause decreased oxygen supply to vital organs. Ultimately, NEC can cause partial or complete destruction of the baby's bowel.Symptoms and Diagnosis of NEC
Symptoms of necrotizing enterocolitis include metabolic acidosis, abdominal distention, feeding intolerance, feeding residuals, jaundice appearance, green fluid in the abdominal wall, lethargy, decreased bowel sounds, an increase or decrease in stools, trouble breathing, acidosis, and bradycardia (slow heart rate).
NEC is progressive so identifying symptoms for prompt treatment is critical. With prompt diagnosis and treatment, most babies with NEC do well and have a normal life expectancy without complications.
NEC is initially diagnosed based on clinical observation of symptoms by a pediatrician. In addition to clinical symptoms, diagnostic tools include blood testing and cultures, abdominal imagining, and blood gas levels all of which can help confirm the diagnosis of NEC.Treatment of NEC
NEC is treated by discontinuing all oral feeding and immediately administering strong antibiotics to the baby. Nutrients must be supplied intravenously until the infection is eliminated and the baby's intestinal tissue has fully healed. Nasogastric drainage is sometimes necessary along with circulatory support. In some cases of NEC, tissue in the intestines may be left decayed and dead. When this occurs surgery will be necessary to remove the dead intestinal tissue. This can often lead to short gut syndrome and other complications.Cow Milk
Fasting sounds counterintuitive. But doctors have long known that the rapid advancement of feeds in a premature infant often results in a significant increase in the incidence of NEC.
The overwhelming majority of infants develop NEC after being fed and few feedings decrease the likelihood of NEC. We now know that the cause of premature babies developing NEC after getting Similac or Enfamil is because they contain cow-based milk.
Research for years found an association between cow milk formulas and NEC in premature infants. Yet there was never a warning on these products that baby formula might be a safer choice for premature infants than Enfamil, Similac, or other cow milk-based formulas.Enfamil Baby Formula Lawsuits
Our baby formula NEC lawyers are evaluating claims against Mead Johnson Nutrition for the failure to warn about the risks of Enfamil. If your baby was fed any of the following products, you could have a viable Enfamil baby formula lawsuit if your baby developed NEC:
- Enfamil NeoPro EnfaCare Infant Formula (Mead Johnson says is the "best" for premature babies)
- Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 20 Cal with Iron
- Enfamil 24 Cal Infant Formula
- Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 24 Cal High Protein
- Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 24 Cal with Iron
- Enfamil Premature Infant Formula 30 Cal with Iron
- Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier
Similarly, our attorneys are also evaluating NEC lawsuits against the maker of Similac, Abbott Laboratories Inc., for premature babies who developed NEC. The cow milk products for Similac include:
- Similac NeoSure
- Similac Alimentum Expert Care
- Similac Liquid Protein Fortifier
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier
- Similac Human Milk Fortifier Hydrolyzed Protein Concentrated Liquid
- Similac Special Care 20
- Similac Special Care 24
- Similac Special Care 24 High Protein
- Similac Special Care 30
The scientific evidence establishing a causal link between cow milk-based infant formula and NEC has been developing for the last 30 years. Below is a chronology of the studies establishing that cow-milk formula increases the risk of NEC in premature infants.
|YEAR STUDY STUDY||STUDY/PUBLICATION|
|1900||The Lancet - Breast milk and neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis: a research study on 926 preterm infants finds that those who were given mi;k-based formula were 6-10 times more likely to develop NEC.|
|2010||Journal of Pediatrics - infants fed with breast milk or human milk fortifiers were 90% less likely to develop NEC compared to those fed with traditional formula made from cow milk.|
|2011||U.S. Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding premature infants who are not fed with human breast milk are 138% more likely to develop NEC.|
|2014||Expert Review of Clinical Immunology - noting and reviewing the established scientific evidence showing higher rates of NEC with formula compared to breast milk.|
|2015||Pediatria - Portuguese study finding 50% reduction in NEC rates for babies given breast milk rather than formula|
|2016||Breastfeeding Medicine - Beyond Necrotizing Enterocolitis Prevention: Improving Outcomes with an Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet: a study of over 1,500 newborns finding a lower incidence of NEC in those who received only human breast milk|
|2019||Cochrane study of over 1,900 premature infants found those with cow-milk-based formulas and had 7 times higher rates of NEC|
|2021||Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics - premature infants given exclusively human breast milk showed a 77% reduction in NEC|
|2021||Pediatrics and Child Health - October 2021 study found that breast milk reduces the risk of NEC for premature babies|
We do not have all of the facts yet. Lawyers have not yet had the opportunity to take depositions and look at all the emails and memos. So there is still a good deal of work victims' lawyers must do in these NEC lawsuits to get a clear picture of what these companies knew and if they tried to cover up the evidence of the link between their formulas and NEC.
But mass tort lawyers have heard this song before. This long history of evidence linking NEC to baby formula raises many questions. So what did the makers of Similac and Enfamil know? Did they internally discuss the problem? Did they talk about what a warning might do to sales and profits if they told what they knew?
Our infant formula attorneys are reviewing NEC lawsuits for families who have children that were:
- Using Similac or Enfamil formula
- Born prematurely
- Diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis
Most of the cases our baby formula attorneys will accept involve either surgery to correct the NEC or a wrongful death lawsuit because the child did not survive.
A class action lawsuit or MDL has not yet been formed for the NEC baby formula lawsuits. But this inchoate litigation is just getting underway. As the claim buildup, you can expect infant formula attorneys to ask for an MDL class action that will consolidate all federal court necrotizing enterocolitis lawsuits under one judge.
Many NEC baby injury lawsuits can be claimed against both the baby formula manufacturer and the doctors and nurses. Some of these lawsuits will bypass the expected NEC class action lawsuit and will proceed as individual claims. Ultimately, these may be the Similac or Enfamil lawsuits that go forward first.
There has not been a recall for Enfamil or Similac. Our baby formula lawyers are not calling for a recall. Instead, our attorneys argue that this infant formula can stay on the market but with a warning to doctors, hospitals, and patients that there may be NEC side effects.
So our lawyers are not advocating a nanny state where lawyers and bureaucrats come between you and your child. But the makers of Enfamil and Similac come between parents and children when they do not arm parents with the information to make the
The NEC infant formula lawsuits are just getting started. But we can estimate settlement amounts and compensation payouts from juries at trial by looking at NEC medical malpractice lawsuits. Let's look at a few:
New York: $5 million verdict
New York: $1.35 million settlement
California: $10 million settlement
Michigan: $50,000 settlement
Louisiana: $347,000 settlement
Florida: $900,000 settlement
Massachusetts: $7 million verdict
Let's pull out a few of these NEC lawsuits for a closer look:
- 2019, New York: $1,350,000 Settlement. A two-day-old newborn with transient tachypnea and a heart murmur was fed a breast milk and formula combination. He suffered bowel loops distension - like we said above, the classic necrotizing enterocolitis sign. The boy’s parents hired a lawyer and filed an NEC malpractice lawsuit. The suit alleged the hospital failed to exclusively feed him breast milk. Like all the NEC claims below, you can see how this could be a product liability claim as well if the baby was fed a cow milk product from Similac or Enfamil, right? If so, did the parents and doctors know of the risks involved? What is important about his case is the defense lawyer's argument. The defendants contended there was no scientific foundation to the claims that formula feeding causes N.E.C. and that breast milk feeding prevents it. This underscores why a warning is so important.
- 2018, Illinois: $2,970,000 Verdict. This is a wrongful death case. A premature baby girl suffered respiratory distress, anemia, bradycardia, and low white blood cell levels. Her physician eventually realized it was necrotizing enterocolitis. She halted the baby's feedings, decompressed her bowel, and performed surgery on her. The girl died several days later. Her parents filed an NEC malpractice suit claiming its staff failed to timely address necrotizing enterocolitis.
- 2011, Massachusetts: $7,050,000 Verdict. A premature newborn with metabolic acidosis was transferred to the NICU. The physician and neonatologist ordered feedings, again presumably cow milk-based baby formula. She died from necrotizing enterocolitis complications. Her parents hired an NEC malpractice lawyer to bring a claim against the hospital. The suit alleged failure to diagnose and treat their baby's necrotizing enterocolitis risk before it was too late.
The average settlement or verdict in this selected sampling is over $3 million. Will that be the average settlement in the NEC baby formula lawsuit? No. But make no mistake. The settlement compensation in these cases will be extremely high if successful. The average cost to treat a baby with NEC is $500,000. This kind of anchor drives high settlement amounts.
Now keep in mind all those NEC settlements and verdicts where lawsuits were brought against doctors and hospitals. These are typically sympathetic defendants who committed medical malpractice. Juries rarely get angry at defendants like this. The doctors usually made an honest mistake, albeit with grave consequences. So there was little possibility for punitive damages in most of those cases.
At trial, NEC baby formula lawyers fighting for the children and their families will argue that the makers of Enfamil and Similac did not warn doctors and parents because they knew it would decrease their profits. If juries agree that the sellers of Enfamil and Similac put profits over the health and safety of premature babies, you will see incredible compensation awards and even more incredible punitive damage awards.
We guess that the baby formula manufacturers will add an NEC warning and offer reasonable settlement amounts to compensate victims before lawyers head to trial.
The cases with the highest value settlement amounts or trial value if this litigation is successful is the case where the child needs ongoing care and pain and suffering. The economic cost of lifelong care for many of these children is in the millions of dollars.
The next highest settlement amounts are likely to be wrongful death cases. It is just awful to lose a child because no one ever told you that the formula she was taking could be causing the child harm. The settlement amounts in these NEC lawsuits could be in the $250,000 to $750,000 range.
In cases where the child endured a great deal of suffering but ultimately recovered, the necrotizing enterocolitis compensation payouts may still be high. These NEC lawsuits could be in the range of $50,000 to $400,000 depending upon the injuries.
Our lawyers are speculating amount the potential settlement compensation payouts in these NEC baby formula lawsuits. This litigation is new. These are just estimates. So take these "how much compensation" estimates you get here or elsewhere with the grains of salt they deserve.
The NEC infant formula litigation is just beginning. So also make predictions as to when you can expect settlement payouts with a grain of salt.
But our lawyers believe that Enfamil lawsuits and Similac lawsuits are a grave concern to Abbott and Mead Johnson. These manufacturers will be concerned about both the risk of large verdicts that will drive settlement compensation payouts and the public relations damage to these previously well thought of brands.
Miller & Zois charges nothing to review your NEC baby formula lawsuit. Our Enfamil and Similac attorneys for families handle these cases on a contingency fee basis. So you pay nothing upfront. Our formula attorneys only receive a fee if our lawyers earn a compensation payout for you, either at trial or at the settlement table.
Baby Formula Example Lawsuit
Kamekia Adams, et al. v. Abbott Laboratories, et al., 2:22-cv-36 (S.D. Miss.) is one of the 40 NEC formula lawsuits that have been filed in the last year.
The plaintiff, Kamekia Adams of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, filed her lawsuit on behalf of her son (“Baby K”) on March 29, 2022, in the Eastern District of Mississippi. Both Abbott and Mead were named as defendants. According to the Complaint, on February 13, 2021, Baby K was born prematurely at 22 weeks gestation with a birth weight of less than 1 pound. For the first three weeks after his birth, Baby K was fed with a combination of his mother’s breast milk, Abbott’s Human Milk Fortifier, and Mead’s Enfamil Premature Infant Formula.
On March 5, 2021, Baby displayed symptoms of NEC and underwent emergency exploratory surgery. Two perforations in his bowel were identified and his abdominal cavity was contaminated. Baby K had to undergo multiple resection surgeries to repair his bowel and ultimately had significant portions of his lower bowel removed.
The Complaint asserts that Baby K developed NEC as a direct result of the bovine formula that he was given in the NICU. The Complaint identifies extensive scientific evidence showing that cow-milk formulas are known to cause NEC in premature infants. Based on this evidence, the plaintiffs contend that the defendants knew or should have known that their formula products “caused and/or significantly increased the likelihood that a preterm baby will develop NEC.”
Our baby formula lawyers offer free consultations and case evaluations in NEC injury and wrongful death cases. Our law firm will review all your legal options so you can choose the best path for your child and family. Call us today at 800-553-3082 or reach out to us online.