Finding an Attorney for Your Infant Formula Lawsuit

Learn how to choose a lawyer who’s right for you and your lawsuit if your baby developed NEC after using Enfamil or Similac premature baby formula.

If your premature baby developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after being fed a cow's milk-based formula (like Enfamil and Similac) you might be thinking about filing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the formula and a medical malpractice lawsuit against the health care professionals who authorized feeding it to your baby. For tips on where to start your search for an experienced product liability attorney and an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice claims, check out: How To Find The Right Personal Injury Lawyer?

Enfamil and Similac Baby Formula Lawsuits

Necrotizing enterocolitis—or NEC (pronounced "neck")—is a serious intestinal disease in newborns. Any newborn can get NEC, but it's most common in premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Potential complications of NEC include:

  • a hole in the intestine
  • severe infection
  • reduced ability to absorb nutrients, and
  • death.

Doctors aren't sure exactly what causes NEC. But a number of studies have shown cow's milk-based formulas, like Enfamil and Similac, might increase the risk of NEC in premature babies. Parents are now filing lawsuits against the manufacturers of Enfamil (Mead Johnson) and Similac (Abbot Laboratories), alleging that the companies knew their infant formulas were unreasonably dangerous for premature babies, yet continued to sell them without adequate warnings to parents, hospitals, and medical providers.

Some parents are also filing medical malpractice lawsuits against medical professionals and hospitals who fed their premature babies cow's milk-based formulas instead of safer alternatives like breast milk (from a mother or donor).

How to Start Your Search for a Baby Formula Lawsuit Attorney

If your premature baby developed NEC after being fed Enfamil or Similac formula, you need an experienced and compassionate lawyer. Your attorney will need legal and medical expertise and the resources to go toe-to-toe with high-powered defendants.

You can start your search with your state or local bar association. Many city, county, or state bar associations offer attorney referral services. You can visit their websites or call with a description of your case and they will match you with a suitable local attorney.

Websites like AllLaw.com and Nolo.com can help you get in touch with a lawyer who handles baby formula lawsuits. You can browse Nolo's directory or find an attorney by practice area (product liability and medical malpractice for these kinds of cases) and ZIP code.

You can also ask coworkers, friends, or family for recommendations. If someone had a good experience, consider interviewing that lawyer. Or ask that lawyer to refer you to someone who might have the right experience to take your case.

Questions to Ask Potential Lawyers

Once you find a potential attorney for your infant formula lawsuit, you'll want to ask the right questions. Your questions will depend on whether you're filing a product liability claim against the makers of Enfamil and Similac, the medical providers who gave it to your child, or both. Here are some sample questions:

  • How long have you been practicing personal injury law? (A lawyer who has more years of experience isn't necessarily better than a newer attorney, but it's an important factor to consider.)
  • Have you sued manufacturers like Mead-Johnson and Abbot Laboratories?
  • Have you sued medical professionals and hospitals for medical malpractice?
  • What is your experience with product liability claims, specifically failure-to-warn claims?
  • How many cases have you taken to trial? (Most cases don't make it to trial, but you want a lawyer who can credibly threaten to go to trial during settlement negotiations and who can present a case to a jury if you get to that point.)
  • How will you get paid? (Most personal injury lawyers get paid on a contingency fee basis. That means if you lose, you don't pay a fee. If you win, the lawyer takes a percentage of what you receive—usually around one-third of the total. Win or lose, you may be on the hook for costs and expenses like court filing fees and expert witness fees.)

How Long Do I Have to File a Baby Formula Lawsuit?

A "statute of limitations" is a law that puts a strict time limit on your right to file a lawsuit against the makers of Enfamil and Similac. Each state and the federal government sets its own deadlines for different types of cases. In most states, you'll have two to three years to get a personal injury lawsuit filed. For details on the deadlines where you live and tips on when the clock might start running, check the statute of limitations in your state.

Statutes of limitations in medical malpractice cases also vary from state to state. To learn more, take a look at: State-by-State Medical Malpractice Laws and Deadline Requirements.

Next Steps

The serious illness or death of a child from NEC is a traumatic event that will have long-term effects—emotional and financial—on your family. Parents are often left wondering whether their infant's NEC could or should have been prevented. Start by asking yourself:

  • Was my baby born prematurely or with other vulnerabilities?
  • Did the hospital feed my baby Enfamil or Similac formula?
  • Did my baby develop NEC?
  • Was I warned about the risks associated with using cow's milk-based formulas, like Enfamil or Similac, including the risk of NEC?

If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, you might want to talk to a lawyer about filing an infant formula lawsuit. Nothing can adequately compensate you for your child developing NEC, but you can seek damages for things like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You can also hold negligent manufacturers and medical providers responsible for the harm they've caused your family and try to prevent them from causing similar harm in the future.

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  3. Choose attorneys to contact you