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Another NEC Similac Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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Another Similac wrongful death lawsuit joins many other complaints linking necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) to Similac or Enfamil formula fed to premature babies.

Houston, TX Yet another wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Abbot Laboratories, claiming it intentionally misled parents and doctors about the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) from its baby formula Similac, which is fed to preemies while in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The Similac lawsuits assert product liability claims against Abbott based on negligent failure to warn and strict product liability.

This latest wrongful death lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas, Case No.: 4:22-cv-230 by Kerrie Payne and Eric Church, Sr. The parents claim their baby son Eric died in January 2021 due to NEC complications that was caused by Similac baby formula, and the baby formula manufacturer, Abbot Laboratories, intentionally misled parents and doctors about the NEC risk from Similac for preemies.

The lawsuit claims that companies who manufacture these products “often intentionally mislabel and misrepresent the contents of the products both to the public at-large and to the health care community, passing off these deadly products as something similar to or even superior to human breast milk.” As well, baby Eric’s parents accuse Abbot of knowing its Similac infant formulas puts preemies at an increased risk of NEC, but the manufacturer and its competitors are willing to place newborn babies’ lives at risk in order to maximize profits.

NEC and Baby Formula Studies

Abbot and other baby formula manufacturers must surely be familiar with numerous studies linking their baby formula to NEC. In fact, studies linking Similac to NEC in preemies were first published in the 1990s, yet it has chosen not to include any warnings about NEC on its product labeling for Similac.

The most recent study published in Pediatrics & Child Health (October 2021) suggests such a link. Researchers show that breast milk is best for preterm and low birth weight infants, as it reduces the risk of NEC.  

“The use of pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) has been recommended as an alternative to formula for preterm or low birth weight infants when mom’s own breast milk (MOM) is unavailable. Studies show that compared to PDHM, formula-fed neonates had better growth rates but were at increased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and feeding intolerance. Notably, most of these studies were conducted in tertiary-level NICUs. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends PDHM as an alternative to formula for neonates admitted to NICUs. However, at time of study, PDHM was not offered in many community NICUs.”

Similac Lawsuits Status

All Similac lawsuits currently pending in the federal courts will likely be consolidated into a new “class-action” multi-district litigation (MDL). A request has been made to consolidate 33 NEC formula cases against Abbott now pending in Illinois state courts.  Attorneys are in the early stages of the Similac NEC litigation: No Similac NEC lawsuits have been settled or gone to trial yet.


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