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How Much is a NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit Worth?

Parents will often turn to cow’s milk based formula when the baby is having difficulty feeding or will not tolerate the mother’s breast milk. When a baby is born prematurely, they often cannot feed directly from their mother.

For years, doctors have been recommending various types of formula or milk-based supplements to help a premature infant get the nourishment that it desperately needs to grow.

Unfortunately, there have been many cases where a baby developed NEC, which is a dangerous bacterial infection that can be life-threatening.

Now, parents are filing baby formula lawsuits against the companies that make these products.

Our law firm can help you with a baby formula lawsuit if your child has been harmed.

Settlement Baby Formula Lawsuits

As the number of NEC lawsuits against baby formula makers Enfamil and Similac increases, families are looking to the potential case values.

Premature Infants May Need to Be Fed Differently

A premature baby does not have a fully developed digestive system. They may be unable to feed on human breast milk directly from the mother.

In addition, a premature infant also needs to catch up on growth because they were born smaller. They have their own special nutritional needs as their bodies try to reach a viable size.

A premature infant also may not have the strength to perform the sucking necessary to breast feed from their mother. They will need special formula or pumped breast milk in the very beginning of their lives.

However, given the risks described below to preterm infants, this formula should never be cow milk based.

What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)?

NEC is when harmful bacteria enters the intestines. This is a rapidly progressing condition that often requires major medical intervention. Up to 30% of babies that develop NEC will die of the ailment.

NEC is actually the most common ailment in neonatal emergency rooms. It happens usually in babies that weigh under 3 1/2 pounds.

NEC is an infection that can cause permanent and serious damage to the intestines.

This can even cause cell death that could affect all or part of the intestines. Babies can suffer serious long-term health consequences from NEC.

Risk Factors for NEC

Here are some of the risk factors for NEC, which primarily affects preterm babies:

  • Low birth weight
  • Low gestational age (being born prematurely)
  • Ethnicity
  • Ceasarean section
  • Other infections

Doctors should consider the risk factors before deciding on what (if any) milk based formula to recommend.

This is why some doctors have been sued for malpractice for suggesting cow’s milk based formulas.

How Cow Milk Based Formula Can Cause Premature Babies to Develop NEC

Babies with NEC do not have a mature gut. In addition, cow’s milk baby formula has a different bacterial content than mother’s milk or other human milk based products.

The bacteria from cow milk based formula can penetrate the walls of the intestine. When this happens, the intestine itself can become inflamed.

Given the vulnerability of a preterm infant’s digestive system, it is not difficult to cause permanent damage that can kill off part of the intestine completely.

However, in spite of the known dangers of NEC and its effect on intestinal tissue, some hospitals have continued to use cow milk based formula, regardless of the age and size of the infant.

This is very big business from Mead Johnson and Abbott Laboratories, as these companies have a huge profit margin from this very expensive product.

They are always trying to make it very easy for hospitals and parents to get started using this product.

Statistics About the Dangers of Cow Milk Formula to Many Premature Infants

Several scientific journals have documented the risk of cow milk formula to a baby’s intestines when they have been born prematurely.

They have found that the risk of NEC is far higher in these babies. Compared to babies that have been fed with human donor milk.

One major study was done in 2011. It was published by the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. The study found that only one in 29 babies who received breast milk developed NEC.

This was compared to five out of 24 babies who received cow based formula who developed the dangerous condition. Four of these babies required surgery.

Studies about NEC baby dangers from the use of cow milk based formulas go as far back as the early 1990s. These results have been confirmed by numerous medical researchers.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that preterm babies should either be fed their mother’s milk in some form or other human donor milk.

NEC Symptoms

Here are some symptoms of NEC:

  • Swelling of the stomach
  • Bloody stools
  • Difficulty in feeding
  • Discolored vomit
  • Lethargy
  • High fever (which can fluctuate)

What to Do After an NEC Diagnosis

The level of treatment necessary depends on the severity of the case of NEC. Doctors will need to stop feedings, and the baby will need to be fed through an intervenous catheter.

The baby may need a tube inserted from their nose to their stomach to suction the air and fluids from their stomach.

Usually, doctors will first try to treat the infection with antibiotics. The baby may need oxygen or mechanically-assisted breathing, depending on the severity of the infection.

If the baby has severe NEC, or if they are not responding to treatment, the doctor may need to perform surgery. This is often an emergency procedure. The baby could lose part of their intestine in this procedure.

If they have a severe infection, they may have reduced function for the rest of their lives.

It is important to remember that NEC is an active infection. As such, it can be an incredibly dangerous condition.

Chances are that the infant is already in the hospital while they develop, and doctors are monitoring them.

If not, parents must be vigilant about getting prompt help.

A Premature Infant Should Use a Human Milk Fortifier

Now, medical studies recommend that a premature infant should either receive human donor milk or a human milk fortifier.

These can improve the health outcome for the smallest of premature babies that cannot have a mother’s breast milk. Either way, doctors should know that cow milk based formula should not be used for preterm infants.

Human milk fortifiers are made by both Similac and Enfamil.

Lawsuits Over Cow Milk Formula

Parents of premature babies who have been injured by cow milk formula have been filing lawsuits against those responsible for their baby’s injuries.

First, parents began with lawsuits against the medical professional who advised them to use cow milk based formulas. Parents have won several of these lawsuits.

Now, families are turning to lawsuits against baby formula manufacturers. Our law firm can help when formula fed preterm babies have been hurt.

Currently, a number of families have filed lawsuits against the companies that make these products.

As of now, these lawsuits are proceeding individually. We expect the number of these cases to grow in the coming months.

We believe that Similac or Enfamil formula lawsuits will eventually become multi-district litigation in federal court in the future.

The Value of Infant Formula Lawsuits

Injured parents want to know how much NEC lawsuits are worth. Their child has suffered greatly and may continue to do so for some time to come.

There are many variables that will go into the damages in NEC lawsuits. Much of it will depend on the jury that issues the verdict. The rest depends on your child’s own individual damages that they suffer from infant formulas.

The Dollar Value of the Case Depends on the Extent of the Damage to the Baby’s Intestinal Tissue

Children respond differently to developing NEC. What is consistent among all children is that this is a very dangerous condition that could be deadly.

However, the extent of the care measures depend on the severity of the case. In the lawsuits that have been filed thus far, the babies either suffered permanent long-term damage or died from the NEC.

In one case, the baby died four months after developing NEC. In another case, the baby passed away one month after becoming sick.

The length of time that the baby survives and experiences pain after contracting NEC could be a major factor in the damage award.

Of course, more severe cases of this illness will result in larger payments for the family. They will require more medical treatment and increase the risk of long-term complications that could cause pain and suffering.

Even if your baby recovered fully from NEC, you may still be entitled to financial compensation for the medical costs that you incurred and for the pain and suffering that your baby endured until they recovered.

The Components of Damages in Product Liability Lawsuits

Product liability lawsuits are like any other personal injury lawsuit in that you are legally entitled to be paid for all that you have suffered.

Formula manufacturers would be obligated to pay you for all of the harm that both your baby and your family suffered.

For your baby, this could include the following:

  • The cost of all past and future medical bills
  • Payment for past and future pain and suffering
  • Compensation for physical limitations in the future
  • Out of pocket costs for the future
  • Loss of consortium for the family when the baby has serious long-term health issues.

The family could also be paid for their emotional trauma and time missed from work if they need to care for their baby.

Wrongful Death Damages in a Formula Lawsuit

If their baby died from NEC, they could be paid for wrongful death damages. This would measure the loss to the family from the passing of their baby.

Some of the elements of this compensation would include:

  • Payment for what the baby could have earned over their lifetime
  • Compensation for the family’s grief and trauma over losing a young child
  • Money for the loss of the closeness that the family would have had with the child

A family could also file a survival action if their baby has died from NEC. This would pay the family for what the baby suffered before they died.

In addition, to the medical bills that were incurred to treat the NEC, the family would also receive money for the pain and suffering that the infant experienced before they died.

Even though the baby was preterm, a jury would still view them as having suffered before they died.

Filing Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Another option for parents of injured babies is medical malpractice lawsuits. With years of literature about the risks of NEC from baby formula, doctors should have known not to prescribe these infant formulas for babies.

Previously, parents were filing medical malpractice lawsuits before they began to sue the makers of these formulas.

Doctors have lost a number of medical malpractice lawsuits related to infant formulas.

In one 2018 case, a New York jury awarded a family $5 million for NEC, although an appeals court later found the verdict to be excessive. Nonetheless, the court still attempted to get the family to stipulate to damages of $575,000.

As you can see, NEC baby formula lawsuits can be worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars. The cases where juries have awarded verdicts well into the millions of dollars are probably outliers.

However, the first batch of cases against a baby formula manufacturer could yield large verdicts if the plaintiffs win in front of the jury.

Much of the Damages from Baby Formula Products Lawsuits Are Pain and Suffering

The jury verdict described in the New York medical malpractice case consisted of pain and suffering.

Of the $5 million verdict, $4 million was for future pain and suffering and $1 million was for past pain and suffering.

Considering that NEC can be a lifelong condition, baby formula makers could be liable for a lifetime of damages in in infant formula lawsuits.

Most baby formula lawsuits involve serious cases of NEC, and babies could face lifelong health problems.

Even though the injuries were sustained as a premature infant, the baby formula manufacturer would be obligated to pay for all of the damages that the baby and family would suffer over a lifetime.

How Baby Formula Lawyers Will Value Your Lawsuit

Our lawyers are well aware of the several multi-million dollar verdicts in medical malpractice cases. It is too early to say whether baby formula manufacturers will be hit with the same verdicts if they lose the cases at a jury trial.

It is a reasonable prediction that the initial verdicts against Similac or Enfamil formula makers could be higher than medical malpractice verdicts because juries like to hammer large companies in cases where they are to blame, and babies are seriously injured.

The increased risk of a large verdict could cause these companies to settle the necrotizing enterocolitis lawsuits.

It is not a stretch to see an average settlement reaching close to $1 million per case if that is the direction in which these cases head.

The average settlement amount could depend on the initial jury verdicts (if the defendants lose the Similac and Enfamil Lawsuits) and the number of cases that have been filed.

We promise you that our lawyers will fight for the maximum possible damages for injuries that your baby has suffered from cow’s milk based formulas.

We have a long track record of working hard and obtaining favorable legal results for our clients.

Injured Preterm Infants Are Sympathetic Plaintiffs

The average value of lawsuits filed by formula fed babies and their families depends on how a jury sees the case.

In product liability or class action lawsuits, juries can be very sympathetic to injured babies, especially premature infants.

This could be even more so when they have been injured by products made by large corporations, such as those who make cow milk based formulas.

These Cow Milk Products Are Made By Giant Corporations

Enfamil is made by Mead Johnson, a company that was sold for nearly $17 billion. Its value was based on the over $4 billion of dollars of revenues that it receives each year from the sale of these products.

Similac is made by Abbott Laboratories. This pharmaceutical giant has a market capitalization that exceeds $200 billion. The company is no stranger to product liability lawsuits.

Each of these two companies controls nearly 40% of the cow’s milk based formula market.

Parents have been paying premium prices for these products for decades and have the right and expectation of a safe product for preterm and full term babies.

The size and financial resources of these companies could come into play if juries assess damages.

Contact Us for Legal Advice

If your child has been injured by baby formulas, you need legal help immediately to know of your options.

You may be entitled to substantial financial compensation for your child’s injuries. However, first, you need to file an NEC baby formula lawsuit.

The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you. Call us at (800) 424-5757 or fill out an online contact form to get started with your case.

Once we agree to form an attorney client relationship, our law firm will get to work and handle all of the details of your lawsuit. We can offer you a free consultation to discuss your case.