Enfamil NEC Lawsuits

Product liability lawsuits are being filed around the country, claiming that the popular baby formula Enfamil has caused premature babies to develop a severe gastrointestinal infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Our national mass tort firm is currently seeking potential Enfamil lawsuits against the formula manufacturer based on its failure to warn about the risks of NEC. You could receive significant financial compensation if you qualify for an infant formula NEC lawsuit and are successful.

March 2023 Update – $60 Million Verdict

An Illinois state court jury awarded $60 million to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit regarding NEC against Mead Johnson. The jury concluded that the company failed to sufficiently alert consumers about the dangers of NEC linked to its cow’s milk-based formula for premature babies. The jury found this failure to warn contributed to the tragic and unnecessary death of an infant.

This case marks the inaugural trial for a lawsuit alleging failure to warn about NEC risks. It is hard to understand what a big deal this verdict is. The jury’s decision delivered a clear message, significantly exceeding the plaintiffs’ request for $25 million by awarding $60 million.  That is not a jury talking. That is a jury screaming, and it is a huge sign of what is to come for Abbott and Mead Johnson if they do not settle these cases before another NEC lawsuit goes to trial.

Enfamil Increases the Risk of NEC in Premature Babies

Enfamil is a widely popular infant formula brand made from cow’s milk and fed to babies as a substitute for human breast milk.  There is now a wealth of medical evidence proving that bovine formulas like Enfamil significantly increase the risk of a dangerous bowel infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) when given to premature babies.

NEC is a bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal system that can cause rapid decay and tissue death in a newborn’s inner intestinal walls. It usually occurs in premature infants (37 weeks or earlier) and can originate in the large or small intestine. The necrotizing infection takes an initial foothold in the inner intestinal lining. From there, it spreads outward through the full thickness of the intestine.

Cases of NEC can range from mild to extremely serious. If the NEC is mild, it may only cause moderate pain from inflammation of the bowels. The most serious NEC cases are potentially fatal for the infant. If not immediately and effectively treated, serious cases of NEC will cause a hole (perforation) to form in the intestine from rapid tissue decay.

When NEC causes a perforation of the intestinal wall, it creates a medical emergency.

This can be fatal for the baby. Harmful and aggressive bacteria escape the digestive system through the perforation in the intestine and infect the abdominal cavity. Once the infection is in the abdomen, it can very quickly lead to a systemic infection and, eventually, a deadly bloodstream infection called sepsis.

The causal link between Enfamil (and other bovine formulas) and an increased risk of NEC in preemies dates back to the early 1990s. More recent medical studies have established concrete proof that feeding Enfamil to premature babies significantly increases their NEC risk level compared to preemies that are given human breast milk.

Studies have shown that if a premature infant is fed exclusively with Enfamil, they are ten times more likely to develop NEC than babies fed with breast milk. The evidence has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Surgeon General, and many health organizations to publicly advocate against feeding Enfamil to premature infants.

Enfamil’s Manufacturer Ignored the Risks of NEC

Enfamil is manufactured by Mead Johnson Nutrition (“Mead Johnson”). Mead Johnson has long been aware of overwhelming medical evidence and clinical studies showing that Enfamil puts premature babies at higher risk for NEC. Despite this knowledge, Mead Johnson has never included a warning label on its Enfamil packaging, cautioning consumers and doctors about the risk of NEC in premature babies.

All product manufacturers have a legal duty to warn consumers about known hazards associated with their products. Mead Johnson clearly had an obligation to warn that Enfamil put premature babies at higher risk for NEC, but they have deliberately ignored that obligation to maintain the marketability of their product. This deliberate failure to warn about the risk of NEC for premature infants is the basis for Enfamil NEC lawsuits being filed against Mead Johnson.

Status of Enfamil Lawsuits

The Enfamil NEC litigation is still in the very early stages, with new Enfamil lawsuits being filed every day. These Enfamil lawsuits assert product liability claims against Mead Johnson for negligent failure to warn, strict product liability, and breach of warranty.

As the number of Enfamil NEC lawsuits continues to rise, we expect to see a new Enfamil “class-action” MDL (multi-district litigation). A mass tort MDL is similar to a traditional class action, except that the individual plaintiffs and their cases remain separate but are consolidated together for pretrial discovery.

Potential Settlement Value of Enfamil Lawsuits?

This litigation is just getting started, so none of the Enfamil NEC lawsuits against Mead Johnson have gone to trial or been settled yet. This makes it impossible to know exactly how much Enfamil lawsuits will be valued for settlement. We can make an educated guess at their potential settlement value by doing a comparative analysis of settlements and verdicts in recent medical malpractice lawsuits in which NEC in a premature baby was the primary injury.

We examined verdict and settlement amounts from a group of recent medical malpractice lawsuits around the country in which NEC in a premature infant was the primary alleged injury. The average payout in these NEC cases was around $3.5 million. The median value for NEC in these recent cases was $1.3 million.  The trial value of these cases?  Well, as we talk about above, the only mark we have is $60 million NEC verdict in March 2024.   That was a wrongful death case without economic damages.  So you could see verdicts even higher.

These compensation amounts are probably lower than the potential payout amounts we could expect in Enfamil NEC lawsuits should a baby formula claim go to trial.  The defendants in the recent NEC malpractice cases we examined were doctors or nurses who probably made honest mistakes and are therefore sympathetic defendants. These types of defendants get much more jury sympathy compared to big corporations like Mead Johnson.

Contact Our Enfamil NEC Lawyers Today

The product liability lawyers at Miller & Zois are actively seeking Enfamil NEC lawsuits from parents of premature infants who were fed with Enfamil or Similac and subsequently developed NEC. Contact us today to see if you have a case.

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