Attorneys representing plaintiffs in more than 30 lawsuits against the makers of Enfamil and Similac filed a motion with the Illinois Supreme Court to consolidate the lawsuits in Madison County, Illinois, according to Reuters. Eighty-five infants are represented in the claims. Defendants—which include Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson & Co LLC, and Mead Johnson Nutrition Co.—are all based in Illinois.
If the consolidation request is granted, all the lawsuits would be joined for discovery and pretrial proceedings. Parents speaking on behalf of their injured infants based their request on the fact that many of the baby formula lawsuits have already been filed in Madison County. By consolidating discovery and other pretrial proceedings under a single court, the cases could be ensured consistent pretrial rulings and would also make more efficient use of resources. Furthermore, the cases involved share similar questions of facts connected with the risks presented by the defendants’ products.
What the Lawsuits Claim
The baby formula complaints claim that certain cows’ milk products caused necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in premature infants. The infants in these cases were fed either Abbott’s Similac or Mead Johnson’s Enfamil while they were in the hospital and subsequently developed the dangerous intestinal condition.
NEC typically requires surgery. Some of the infants perished.
Parents involved in the lawsuits accuse the defendants of aggressively marketing their formulas as not only safe but also necessary for the growth and development of preterm infants. The complaints further accuse the defendants of exploitive tactics, suggesting to parents that human sources of nutrition would not sufficiently facilitate their babies’ survival and “wholly failing” to issue any warning of the dangers presented by feeding premature infants cow-based formulas, reports Law360.
Cases that were originally filed in Madison County have already been consolidated for pretrial and discovery proceedings. The plaintiffs include parents from a variety of states, including Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, and New Jersey.
NEC affects around 9,000 premature babies annually throughout the U.S. According to the University of Arizona Department of Pediatrics Neonatology, the condition is the most prevalent GI ailment among preterm infants. Anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of afflicted babies do not survive.
NEC develops when harmful bacteria breach the intestine walls of an infant, triggering inflammation of the still immature organ. Mayo Clinic reports that premature infants who receive only breast milk withstand a substantially lower risk of developing this serious condition.