Abbott Faces Lawsuits Over Baby Formulas Linked to Deadly Illness

Abbott Nutrition faces an increasing number of lawsuits after recalling its powdered infant formula, which was linked to the hospitalization of three babies and at least one death.

All four babies had become sick from Cronobacter sakazakii or salmonella infections after ingesting Abbott’s Similac®, Alimentum®, and EleCare® brands of infant formula. Abbott recalled certain product lots of these brands on February 17.

If your child suffered severe stomach problems after consuming baby formula, contact Sokolove Law for a free case review.

Abbott had issued the recall in response to a public safety announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After receiving reports of these babies’ illnesses, the FDA launched an investigation in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The investigation included inspections of Abbott’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan where the powdered infant formula was made.

Parents File Infant Formula Lawsuits Over Abbott’s Safety Violations

Last week, the parents of a hospitalized baby in Texas filed a pre-suit petition against Abbott in Kaufman County District Court. According to the lawsuit, the baby developed diarrhea so severe that the parents took him to the hospital, where he stayed for several weeks. Tests confirmed the child had a Cronobacter sakazakii infection.

Another baby died on February 28, with a Cronobacter infection noted by doctors as a “contributing cause of death.” Abbott then expanded its recall to include another lot of its Similac infant formula.

In its initial recall, Abbott insisted that Cronobacter sakazakii, a germ formerly known as Enterobacter sakazakii, is found naturally in the environment and at home.

Abbott has denied that these babies’ infections may have originated from its Michigan facility.

However, according to lawsuits, the FDA’s inspection of Abbott’s Michigan plant found violations related to cleanliness and temperature control: the very conditions that would lead to an infectious disease outbreak, plaintiffs argue. Abbott allegedly failed to warn about these violations, which were found back in September 2021.

In a letter to Abbott’s CEO Robert Ford, Patty Murray (D-WA) and some prominent lawmakers demanded to know why the company failed to recall its formula sooner, considering the potentially fatal risks to infants.

The Growing Concerns Over Unsafe Infant Formulas

This new wave of lawsuits over the Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare brands of powdered formula only adds to Abbott’s legal issues. Along with Enfamil manufacturer Mead Johnson, Abbott already faces more than 50 lawsuits over another cow’s milk-based infant formula.

In those cases, parents and caregivers allege their babies died or got sick from a gastrointestinal disease called necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC. The lawsuits claim that despite company claims that cow’s milk-based formulas are safe, extensive research has found an increased risk of NEC in low-birth-weight and preterm babies.

With an increasing number of popular baby formula brands now linked to potentially fatal illnesses in infants, the FDA and CDC warn parents and caregivers against buying certain Abbott brands of powdered baby formulas.

The CDC’s guidance is clear: Do not feed your baby recalled powdered formula. Return it for a refund. To find out if your product is included in the recall, locate the product lot number next to the Use By date on the bottom of the container and enter it on Abbott’s website.

Author:Sokolove Law Team
Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: March 11, 2022

View 4 Sources
  1. Sokolove Law. "FDA Warns of Risk of Salmonella and Cronobacter Sakazakii Associated With Infant Formula Made at Abbott Nutrition Facility in Michigan." 24 Feb. 2022. Retrieved on March 8, 2022 from https://www.sokolovelaw.com/blog/risk-of-salmonella-and-cronobacter-sakazakii-with-infant-formula/
  2. Sokolove Law. "NEC Baby Formula Lawsuit." 2 Mar. 2022. Retrieved on March 8, 2022 from https://www.sokolovelaw.com/product-liability/similac-enfamil-formula/
  3. Law360. "New Lawsuits Latch Onto Infant Formula Recall." 3 Mar. 2022. Retrieved on March 8, 2022 from https://www.law.com/2022/03/03/new-lawsuits-latch-onto-infant-formula-recall/?slreturn=20220205165454
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Cronobacter Infection and Infants." 1 Mar. 2022. Retrieved on March 8, 2022 from https://www.cdc.gov/cronobacter/infection-and-infants.html