Autism Lawsuit Filed Over Toxic Metals in Gerber, Sprout, and Walmart Baby Food Products
Walmart, Beech-Nut and Gerber face a product liability lawsuit alleging that a child’s autism diagnosis was caused by mercury, lead and arsenic in baby food products sold by the companies in recent years.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Robin Maglinti last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, pursuing damages for herself and her minor child, identified with the initials K.M., who developed autism after consuming Gerber, Sprout and Walmart baby food that has been found to contain high levels of toxic metals.
In 2021, a U.S. Congressional report ignited a firestorm of concerns over dangerous levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury found in a number of different popular baby foods, and nearly two years later reports suggest that toxic metals in baby food remain a pervasive problem, with high levels still found in popular brands sold by Gerber, Plum Organics, Sprout, Walmart and others.
Manufacturers of products found to contain high levels of these heavy metals already face hundreds of toxic baby food lawsuits, involving similar allegations that children developed autism spectrum disorders (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) and other side effects.
According to Maglinti’s lawsuit, KM, was fed baby food sold under the Gerber, Sprout and Walmart labels from May 2013 until at least January 2015, and the child was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in January 2016.
Maglinti indicates that she has since learned that the baby food contained toxic metals, including arsenic, mercury, and lead, which the manufacturers knew or should have known had contaminated their products. However, children continued to be exposed to toxic metals in Gerber, Sprout and Walmart baby food, since the companies failed to confirm their products were safe, according to the lawsuit.
Baby Food Toxic Metal Contamination
Autism lawsuits over toxic metal in baby food began to be filed by families nationwide after a congressional report was released in April 2021, which found that many popular products contained exceeded more than 91 times the maximum level of arsenic allowed in bottled water; 177 times the allowable levels of lead, 69 times the limits on cadmium, and five times the levels of allowable mercury.
Maglini’s lawsuit claims the manufacturers tried to hide these facts from parents, knowing it would affect the sales of their products, choosing profits over child safety.
“Baby food manufacturers (such as Defendants) hold a special position of public trust. Consumers believe that they would not sell baby food products that are unsafe,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants Beech, Gerber, and Walmart each knew that if the elevated levels of toxic heavy metals in their respective brands of baby food was disclosed to the Plaintiff, then Plaintiff would be unwilling to purchase their Baby Food products.”
The lawsuit presents claims of failure to warn, breach of warranty, negligence per se, negligence, gross negligence, violation of the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act, strict liability, and unjust enrichment. She seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.
January 2024 Toxic Baby Food Lawsuit Update
Earlier this month, a number of families now pursuing ADHD and autism lawsuits in the federal court system filed a motion calling for the creation of a toxic baby food multidistrict litigation, or MDL, indicating that the claims should be consolidated and centralized before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) previously denied a similar request in late 2021, resulting in cases against various different manufacturers moving forward independently in a number of different jurisdictions nationwide over the past few years.
However, as the size and scope of the litigation has continued to grow, the parties renewed the request, to avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to reduce duplicative discovery that must be conducted across large numbers of claims.
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