Many children using baby formula powders during their early life were exposed to a contaminant that can cause the onset of severe illness and death. If this happened to your young child, Join the Many can help you determine if you should take action against Similac makers and demand justice for your family.
Why Similac Products Were Recalled
For children who use powdered baby formula, including from brands Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare, an alert and recall were issued for those products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products were investigated by the FDA because they could cause bacterial infections in children who consumed the powder.
It was found that some of these products produced at a manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, were contaminated and could have caused some children to suffer significant illness. The FDA reports that, within their initial investigation, four children had to be hospitalized, and two additional children died as a result of the exposure and resulting bacterial infection.
Because of these risks, the FDA and Abbott Nutrition, the manufacturer that owns the Sturgis plant, recalled these products. The recall expanded to include numerous products from various locations. This led to a nationwide shortage of baby formula in the U.S.
Which Products Were Recalled?
Through the end of October 2022, a number of Similac and other brands produced by Abbott had been recalled as a way to stop the potential spread of this illness from the possible bacteria found within the products. The Abbott recall included a range of Similac products, including:
- Similac Pro-Total Comfort
- Similac 360 Total Care
- Similac 360 Total Care Sensitive
- Similac Special Care 24
- Similac Stage 1
- Similac Water (Sterilized)
- Similac NeoSure
- Pedialyte Electrolyte Solutions
In total, Abbott recalled 26 different products.
In addition to the powdered products, they also recalled some forms of two ounce, ready-to-feed products as well, according to the FDA.
To determine if your child consumed some of these products, you can use the serial number, or lot code, from the product container. The FDA warned not to use products if they had:
- The first 2 digits of the code are 22 through 37 AND
- The code on the container contains K8, SH, or Z2 AND
- The expiration date of the product is 4-1-2022 or later
These products were required to be no longer used because they carried the risk of bacterial contamination.
If your child used these products and they then became sick as a result, Join the Many. You may be able to file a claim to hold manufacturers responsible and receive compensation. Our team will provide you with a free case review to help you learn if you qualify, then connect you with an experienced firm who will fight your entire case on your behalf.
What Is the Bacterial Risk?
The risk to these children was the development of a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis. According to the NEC Society, it is a type of intestinal disease that typically impacts medically fragile or premature infants. It can cause inflammation in the intestinal tissue. It is expected that 1 in 10 babies born with very low birth weights are at the highest risk for this condition. However, each year, thousands of children develop this condition, and many hundreds of them die as a result of it.
NEC can be brought on by Cronobacter, a type of bacteria that is known to be a concern in powdered baby formula products. Cronobacter bacteria can cause life-threatening infections and meningitis in children. Most of the time, they are rare for young children. However, they may result in the child suffering poor feeding, jaundice, and other health complications.
This bacterium was found at the Sturgis baby formula plant. If your child consumed baby formula produced at that plant and then became sick due to a Cronobacter infection, leading to the development of NEC, then your child may be a victim in this situation.
What Led to the Recall?
The FDA received consumer complaints between September 9, 2021, and February 2, 2022, of infants that suffered Cronobacter infections who had to be hospitalized. Four children were hospitalized, and two children died from NEC that resulted from Cronobacter. These children consumed powdered baby formula produced by Abbott Nutrition at its Sturgis, Michigan plant.
After receiving this information and investigating what occurred, the FDA took action as a way to protect further children from becoming ill. However, there are limitations to this.
First, many children each year suffer from NEC. While in the hospital recovering (or in cases of fatalities), it is not always recognized that the child had Cronobacter infections. Often, hospitals treat NEC as their focus to protect the child’s life. In some cases, parents are not told that there is a suspected Cronobacter infection because many health departments do not require the reporting of it.
That means your child could have suffered from this illness related to exposure to Cronobacter, and you may not have known that. If your infant was hospitalized during their early life as a result of an NEC illness, and they used a powdered baby formula in 2021 or early 2022, then they could have been exposed to this bacteria through the plant’s exposure.
Also, important to note is that there is help available to you. Join the Many is supporting parents in learning if they have the legal right to file a lawsuit for their child’s suffering.
A Breakdown of the Events
The U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention provide a great level of insight into what’s occurred as well as what parents can do if they believe their child is at risk.
Several cases of Cronobacter sakazakii infection were reported to the FDA in September of 2021. These cases were reported in Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas between September 6, 2021, and January 4, 2022. At that time, the FDA reported the incident to the public.
Abbott took action to voluntarily recall its products (those listed here) as a way to help prevent any risk to other children. It did not admit to having any type of contaminated product.
The initial reports stated that four children had NEC, which was the result of an infection from this strain. Two children died. The FDA reported that it is continuing to look into what happened and how the exposure occurred. However, it is not uncommon for Cronobacter to be present in powdered milk products because it can thrive in this climate.
Once the recall took place, the products were removed from shelves throughout the U.S. This led to a nationwide shortage of the product.
Are There Lawsuits for Similac Exposure?
There have been a number of people who have come forward to note that they believe their child suffered from exposure to this bacteria and NEC as a result of their use of powdered formula use early in life. Since this series of events took place in 2019, these cases are very new. Some people have filed in local courts against the manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, as well as Mead Johnson, who produces the Enfamil line of products which is also a part of the recall.
Because this is in the early stages of litigation, there is not too much information available yet on what is likely to occur. People have brought lawsuits against the manufacturers for:
- Necrotizing enterocolitis complications (often including hospital stays and long-term health complications)
- Necrotizing enterocolitis deaths
There is a significant amount of research that needs to be done to link these deaths and illnesses to the baby formula manufacturer. However, that work is already being done. Because this is such a devastating illness, with some accounts of up to 50 percent of children with NEC not surviving, the FDA took action quickly to eliminate the risk by closing down the plant and requiring cleaning. However, it could continue to happen.
What happens next?
As of October 2022, people are still reporting cases of NEC and potential formula contamination to the FDA. There are enough cases brought against these manufacturers, and a multidistrict litigation process has occurred. This would allow for similar cases to be lumped together to enable fair restitution to be applied across the board. A panel has been created to establish a federal mass tort case that would handle all of these claims.
As of August 2022, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly from the Chicago District is overseeing the MDL. However, other cases are pending throughout the U.S., including nearly 100 claims in federal court in New Jersey that are being overseen by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer.
We are not at that point just yet. However, if your child suffered from this condition, you can take action now to help them. That includes reaching out to Join the Many to request a free case evaluation. There are attorneys already working on these claims. We’ll carefully match you with a firm who will build your case and charge no legal fees unless you win compensation.
Current Lawsuit History
Since the recall of Similac products, there have been a number of people to bring forward lawsuits. One firm is representing 12 lawsuits related to exposure to NEC from powdered baby formula. Overall, there are over 100 pending lawsuits in federal court related to this recall. However, it is expected that this number will grow significantly in the coming months and years as more connections occur between the formula and the NEC illnesses. That could take much longer to realize.
What Factors Could Lead to a Case?
If your child consumed powdered formula and then became ill from a Cronobacter infection, you may wish to learn if you qualify to file a claim.
Abbott Nutrition has taken action to request an MDL be created to oversee these claims. You could be a part of that if:
- Your child used powdered Similac powdered formula in 2021 or early 2022
- The child suffered a Cronobacter infection (or you suspect that they did)
- The child was hospitalized or died as a result of NEC (or you suspect that they did)
Even if you are unsure if your child was impacted, but they suffered any of the above during that period, it is wise to seek out more information to find out if compensation was owed.
What to Expect Moving Forward
The lawsuits brought against Similac are likely to increase in the coming months to years. By 2023, there are expectations of thousands of such cases being brought to court against the manufacturer. As that occurs, the MDLs will be created and managed to help oversee the process. Research and development of the case will occur.
Eventually, cases will be heard. The initial cases, often called bell weather cases, will likely set the tone for what is to come going forward. This could include significant settlement amounts for those who suffered financial losses as well as pain and suffering.
If you expect that your child was harmed by Similac, it is imperative that you prepare now for the legal proceedings to come. Join the Many can help by providing you with a free case review as a starting point. From there, we will work with you to direct you to the specific attorneys who are already working on cases like your own.