Similac Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Preemie’s Fatal Case of NEC After Fed Infant Formula in NICU

Lawsuit claims the manufacturers intentionally misled parents and the medical community about the NEC risks from Similac for premature infants.

According to allegations raised in an infant wrongful death lawsuit brought by the parents of a baby who died just a couple weeks after being born prematurely, a fatal case of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) was caused by Similac formula fed to the preemie while still in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The complaint (PDF) was brought against Abbott Laboratories this week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, claiming the baby formula manufacturer intentionally misled parents and doctors about the NEC risk from Similac for preemies.

Kerrie Payne and Eric Church, Sr. brought the Similac wrongful death lawsuit over the loss of their baby, Eric Church, Jr., who died in January 2021 from complications associated with NEC, which is a devastating disease where the wall of the intestine is invaded by bacteria, leading to destruction of the bowel.

NEC primarily impacts premature babies, but has been found to occur with substantially greater frequency among preemies fed cow’s milk formula like Similac or Enfamil, compared to breast milk. However, according to the lawsuit, Abbott Laboratories failed to disclose known information about the risks.

Baby Eric was born prematurely on January 5, 2020, and the lawsuit indicates he developed NEC after being fed Similac cow’s milk-based formula in the NICU.

His parents’ indicate Abbott Laboratories knows its Similac infant formulas puts preemies at an increased risk of NEC, but claim the company and its competitors are willing to place newborn babies’ lives at risk in order to maximize profits.

“The companies who manufacture these products often intentionally mislabel and misrepresent the contents of the products both to the public at-large and to the health care community, passing off these deadly products as something similar to or even superior to human breast milk,” the lawsuit states. “Tragically, baby Eric Church Jr., who was premature at birth, was fed these cow’s milk-based products, developed NEC, and died shortly thereafter.”

Payne and Church, Sr.’s complaint joins a growing number of Similac lawsuits and Enfamil lawsuits now being brought families nationwide, following the publication of several studies in recent years that highlighted information about the link between baby formula and NEC.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the litigation, a motion has been filed in the federal court system to consolidate and centralize all Similac NEC lawsuits before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

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