12 Baby Formula NEC Lawsuits Go Forward (Similac and Enfamil)

Those who make infant formula A strategy outlining the procedure for choosing a set of 12 cases that will be ready for a series of early bellwether trials have been provided to the U.S. District Judge overseeing the litigation by the NEC lawsuits being brought against the manufacturers of Similac and Enfamil.

Cow’s milk infant formula brands Similac and Enfamil have received extensive marketing in recent years to hospitals and families of new babies, especially premature infants still in the NICU. Nevertheless, mounting research indicates that infant formula significantly raises the chance that preemies will experience the unpleasant necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, which causes the gut to rot away.

In the United States, more than 100 families are currently pursuing Similac NEC lawsuits or Enfamil NEC lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson, claiming the companies were aware of the dangers of using their products on premature newborns for years. However, it is anticipated that the amount of the case will drastically rise and most likely encompass more than 1,000 claims as lawyers continue to analyze and file claims in the upcoming months and years.

Similac or Enfamil cow’s milk formula for premature newborns carried a higher risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) or accidental death.

Case Info

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established coordinated management for all NEC lawsuits against Similac and Enfamil manufacturers in April due to the similar factual and legal issues raised in complaints filed in numerous different U.S. District Courts nationwide. This mandated that any case filed throughout the federal court system be transferred to U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer in the Northern District of Illinois for centralized discovery.

Judge Pallmeyer has said that a “bellwether” program will be established as part of the coordinated management of the NEC lawsuits. Under this program, small groups of claims will go through case-specific discovery and early trial dates to help determine how juries are likely to react to certain evidence that will be repeated throughout the litigation. However, each Similac and Enfamil lawsuit may later be remanded to various different U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates if the parties are unable to reach a settlement during the MDL procedures.

suggested infant formula Bellwether Selection Plan for the NEC Lawsuit

Judge Pallmeyer received a collaborative plan from plaintiffs and defendants explaining how these initial bellwether cases should be chosen on August 12 in the form of a draft order (PDF).

The cases would be selected in accordance with the proposed plan among those filed on or before September 16, 2022. Plaintiffs must submit to the producers of infant formula a list of four initial bellwether discovery cases by the end of the following month, no more than three of which may name Mead Johnson, the company that makes Enfamil, as a defendant.

The parties will also submit to the court on September 30 a list of cases in which Similac’s manufacturer, Abbott, is the only defendant, as well as a list of situations in which Mead Johnson is either the only defendant or a co-defendant with Abbott. They will next submit a computer-generated application to the court to randomly select a total of four more cases from those two lists.

The baby formula producers will next submit a list of four additional cases on or before November 23, 2022, guaranteeing that Mead Johnson is a defendant in no more than five of the list’s 12 prospective bellwether trials.

Each party will choose two cases to serve as initial bellwether trial cases after fact discovery on the dozen initial bellwether discovery cases is finished. This will leave a total of four claims that are eligible to go before jurors.

According to the suggested strategy, the Court will later decide the cases’ trial order, spacing them out by approximately 12 weeks.

The results of these early bellwether trials are expected to have a significant impact on any baby formula NEC settlements the manufacturers may offer, even though their results will not be legally binding on other claims and won’t prevent them from being remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates in the future.

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