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?
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:
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).
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.