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Baby Formula NEC Lawsuit

Our lawyers are pursuing Enfamil and Similac baby formula lawsuits for premature babies who suffered necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). There is evidence that cow milk in these formulas contribute 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 November 22, 2021. Come back here for all of the latest NEC formula lawsuit updates.

Failure to Warn of Cow Milk in Similac and Enfamil

Many parents out there who have prematurely born children 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.

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, 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.

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 that 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
Similac Baby Formula Lawsuits

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
Scientific Evidence Linking NEC and Cow Milk Formula

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.

YEARSTUDY / PUBLICATION
1900The Lancet - Breast milk and neonatal necrotising enterocolitis: research study on 926 preterm infants finds that those who were given cow-milk formula were 6-10 times more likely to develop NEC.
2010Journal 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.
2011U.S. Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding premature infants who are not feed with human breast milk are 138% more likely to develop NEC.
2014Expert Review of Clinical Immunology - noting and reviewing the established scientific evidence showing higher rates of NEC with formula compared to breast milk.
2015Pediatria - Portuguese study finding 50% reduction in NEC rates for babies given breast milk rather than formula.
2016Breastfeeding Medicine - Beyond Necrotizing Enterocolitis Prevention: Improving Outcomes with an Exclusive Human Milk-Based Diet: study of over 1,500 newborns finding lower incidence of NEC in those who received only human breast milk.
2019Cochrane study of over 1,900 premature infants found those with cow-milk-based formulas and had 7 times higher rates of NEC
2021Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics - premature infants given exclusively human breast milk showed 77% reduction in NEC.
2021    Pediatrics and Child Health - October 2021 study finding that breast milk is preferable for              premature babies because it reduces the risk of NEC.

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?

Who Is Eligible for a Necrotizing Enterocolitis Lawsuit?

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 a surgery to correct the NEC or a wrongful death because the child did not survive.

Is There a Class Action Lawsuit for Baby Formula and NEC?

A class action lawsuit or MDL has not yet formed for the NEC baby formula lawsuits. But his 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 of the federal court cases under one judge.

State Court Baby Formula NEC Lawsuits

Many NEC baby injury lawsuits can be claims 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.

Has There Been an Enfamil or Similac Recall?

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

What Settlement Amounts are Expected in NEC Infant Formula Lawsuits?

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 of 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?
  • 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 a NEC malpractice suit claimed 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 a NEC malpractice lawyer to bring a claim against 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.

Why the NEC Formula Lawsuits Might Have Higher Trial and Settlement Amounts?

Now keep in mind all those NEC settlements and verdicts were 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.

Our guess is that the baby formula manufacturers will add an NEC warning and offer reasonable settlement amounts before a jury ever hears one of these lawsuits.

What Will Be the Most Important Factor in NEC Infant Formula Settlement Amounts?

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. The economic cost for 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.

From there, you can also expect cases where the child endured a great deal of suffering to have high necrotizing enterocolitis compensation payouts.

How Long Will It Take to Settle the Necrotizing Enterocolitis Lawsuits?

Again, the NEC infant formula litigation is just beginning so take any predictions as to when you can expect settlement payouts with a grain of salt. But our lawyers predict that Enfamil lawsuits and Similac lawsuits will be 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.

Baby Formula Lawsuit Status Update: October 2021

Again, a baby formula class action lawsuit has not yet been formed or sought. Right now, these are individual product liability lawsuits alleging Mead Johnson Nutrition and Abbott should have provided an NEC warning on these products to give parents a choice.

Cost of Having an Infant Formula Lawyer Evaluate Your Potential Lawsuit

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 us nothing upfront. We only receive a fee and expenses if we earn a compensation payout for you, either at trial or the settlement table.

Call Our Lawyers Today

Our lawyers offer free consultations and case evaluations in NEC injury and wrongful death cases. We 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.

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