The case of Crawford v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc. is one of the most recent examples of an NEC infant formula lawsuit. The plaintiff, Candace Crawford, brought the case on behalf of her deceased infant ZaRiyah Crawford. The Complaint was filed against both Abbott Laboratories, Inc. and Mead Johnson Nutrition in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Baby ZaRiyah was born prematurely (34 weeks gestation age) at North Florida Regional Medical Center on December 2, 2019. ZaRiyah had a birthweight of just 3 pounds and 14 ounces, making rapid weight gain very important to her health. After her birth, ZaRiyah was sent to the NICU.
For the first 3 days at the NICU, Baby ZaRiyah was fed with her mother’s pumped breast milk combined with donor human breast milk. After these first 3 days, however, ZaRiyah was fed with a combination of human breast milk supplemented with Enfamil and Similac cow-milk based formulas.
A few days after starting on the cows-milk formulas, Baby ZaRiyah was was noted to be very fussy and uncomfortable, with a firm abdomen and hypoactive bowel sounds in the left upper and lower quadrant, and non-existent on the right.
Baby ZaRiyah was diagnosed with Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) that same day, and immediately transferred to the NICU at the University of Florida’s Shands Children’s Hospital. While at Shands, ZaRiyah was forced to undergo an invasive exploratory surgery on December 9, 2019, which revealed that no portion of her bowel was salvageable due to extensive necrosis. Baby Za’Riyah had Necrotizing Enterocolitis Totalis; her prognosis was grim.
Following the exploratory surgery, Baby Za’Riyah continued to decline despite maximum medical intervention. On December 11, 2019, Baby Za’Riyah’s parents made the compassionate decision to withdraw life-saving measures and focus on comfort care. Baby Za’Riyah died in her mother’s arms at 5:26 PM on December 11, 2019 due to Necrotizing Enterocolitis.
Lawsuit Highlights Inadequacy of NEC Warnings on Similac and Enfamil
The Complaint in the Crawford Enfamil lawsuit lays out a 2-pronged assault on the formula manufacturers. First, the Complaint goes into extensive detail about the scientific evidence establishing that cow-milk formulas can cause NEC when fed to premature infants. Numbered paragraphs 23-39 in the Complaint summarize all of the relevant medical studies on bovine formula and NEC in premature babies dating back to 1990. This is one of the best and most comprehensive summaries of the medical evidence linking NEC and infant formulas that we have seen in a Enfamil or Similac NEC lawsuit.
The second prong of the Crawford Complaint lays out detailed accusations against the defendants accusing them of deliberately ignoring the evidence linking NEC to formula and not including any warnings about this risk on their product labeling:
Despite the knowledge of the significant health risks posed to preterm infants ingesting the Cow’s Milk-Based Products, including the significant risk of NEC and death, Defendants did not warn parents or medical providers of the risk of NEC, nor did Defendants provide any instructions or guidance on how to properly use its Cow’s Milk-Based Products so as to lower the risk or avoid NEC or death.
The Complaint then moves on to highlight the complete absence of any warning in the product labels for Enfamil or Similac about the risks of NEC in premature babies. The Complaint recites the entire product labeling information from both Enfamil and Similac to illustrate the absence of any mention of the risk of NEC for premature infants.
Misleading Promotion of Human Milk Fortifiers
The Crawford lawsuit also specifically accuses Abbott and Mead Johnson of a deliberate effort to promote new human milk fortifier products to mislead consumers into believing that these are safe, human-milk based products. According to the Complaint, the product term “human milk fortifier” (used by both Abbott and Mead Johnson) is intentionally misleading because it implies that the product is derived from “human” milk, when it is actually made from cow’s milk just like regular formula:
Defendants have separately designed competing, systematic, powerful, and misleading marketing campaigns to persuade physicians and parents to believe that: (1) Cow’s Milk-based formula and fortifiers are safe; (2) Cow’s Milk-Based Products are equal, or even superior, substitutes to breastmilk; and (3) physicians consider their Cow’s Milk-Based Products a first choice. Similarly, the Defendants market their products for preterm infants as necessary for growth, and perfectly safe for preterm infants, despite knowing of the extreme risks posed by Cow’s Milk-Based Products and failing to warn of the deadly disease of NEC and risk of death.
File an NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit
If your premature baby developed NEC after being fed with Similac, Enfamil, or another bovine formula product, our lawyers can help you file an NEC formula lawsuit and seek compensation from the formula manufacturers.