Several parents and guardians are filing NEC lawsuits against Enfamil manufacturer Mead Johnson Nutrition and Similac manufacturer Abbott Laboratories Inc., after their popular infant formulas have caused injuries or death to many premature babies.

NEC stands for necrotizing enterocolitis. It is a serious and potentially fatal gastrointestinal disease in which the area of a premature infant’s intestine becomes damaged. The condition causes intestinal tissue to die, forming a hole in the baby’s intestine in which bacteria can leak out from, ultimately causing life-threatening blood infections. 

As we speak, more claims are added to the slew of lawsuits and more cases are expected to be filed through the end of 2024. 

If your baby was born prematurely and they have developed necrotizing enterocolitis after being fed with a Similac or Enfamil formula product, you may be eligible to file a NEC lawsuit against the makers of these toxic baby formula products. Time is of the essence, however, and the sooner you talk to an attorney, the better your chances are of claiming the compensation you justly deserve. 

You can start a NEC baby formula lawsuit by contacting us today and we will put you in contact with the right NEC lawyer who can evaluate your case. 

Why are NEC lawsuits being filed?

NEC lawsuits are being filed against the makers of Similac and Enfamil because plaintiffs claim these companies failed to warn doctors and parents of the risk of NEC associated with the formulas. 

As product manufacturers, Abbott and Mead Johnson have the duty to make the products they bring into the market as safe as possible. However, in case they cannot do so, they still have a legal obligation to adequately warn the public about any adverse effects associated with their products. 

Now, it appears that none of these two were accomplished by the cows milk based formula makers. In fact, these big companies did not include any warnings about NEC on their product labelings and even claimed that their formulas are safe for premature infants in spite of being made aware of the potential dangers. As a result, lawyers are currently holding them accountable for failure to warn about the increased risk of NEC. 

What is the current status of the lawsuits?

November 16, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC infant formula MDL saw the addition of 15 new cases in the last month, bringing the total pending cases to 290.

November 1, 2023 NEC Update: Four pivotal “bellwether” cases in the NEC class action lawsuit have been chosen for federal court trials. These trials, which may begin by 2024, are crucial in gauging jury reactions and could heavily influence future settlements. The expectation is that settlements might occur before, during, or soon after these trials. However, if settlements aren’t reached post these trials, individual cases may return to various U.S. District Courts.

October 17, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC preterm infant formula MDL, now 18 months old, shows a slower pace of new cases, with only 12 added last month, totaling 275.

October 2, 2023 NEC Update: Judge Pallmeyer in the NEC preterm formula MDL has established procedures for handling pathology evidence and extended deadlines for bellwether case selections.

September 18, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC infant formula MDL has grown significantly this summer, with over 80 new cases, reaching a total of 263.

September 14, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC lawyers’ motion for extending the bellwether selection date was partially granted. A new discovery timetable and a status hearing date will be set.

August 21, 2023 NEC Update: Peyton v. Abbott, a significant NEC lawsuit, was filed in Illinois, highlighting the adverse effects of Abbott’s cow milk-based formula in causing NEC.

August 17, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC preterm infant formula class action MDL now has 205 pending cases, doubling in size since January.

July 18, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC preterm infant formula class action lawsuit added 11 new cases, bringing the total to 191, more than double since the year’s start.

July 11, 2023 NEC Update: In certain NEC lawsuits, the statute of limitations is a contentious issue, highlighted by a San Francisco court’s tentative decision regarding Abbott Laboratories’ motion.

June 28, 2023 NEC Update: Hayes v. Mead Johnson & Co, LLC, a notable case involving a premature infant developing NEC from cow’s milk-based formula, was added to the NEC MDL.

June 16, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC preterm infant formula MDL saw an addition of 14 new plaintiffs, totaling 180 cases.

May 31, 2023 NEC Update: The FTC is investigating potential collusion among baby formula manufacturers, including Abbott Laboratories, in state contract bids.

May 23, 2023 NEC Update: U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly dismissed economic loss claims in a case against Abbott Laboratories but allowed personal injury claims to proceed.

May 15, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC class action MDL, initially with 89 cases, has seen limited growth, reaching only 166 cases in 12 months.

May 1, 2023 NEC Update: Plaintiffs are seeking discovery of foreign regulatory materials to understand the risks posed by Mead and Abbott’s products to premature babies.

April 25, 2022 NEC Update: The final discovery plan for 12 bellwether cases in the NEC formula MDL has been approved, with depositions and trials planned.

April 19, 2022 NEC Update: The NEC class action lawsuit in Illinois now has 122 pending cases.

April 1, 2023 NEC Update: A study from Emory University highlights racial disparities in NEC incidence among prematurely born African-American infants.

March 16, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC infant formula MDL has 122 active cases, with a significant addition of new plaintiffs in the last month.

February 24, 2023 NEC Update: The NEC class action litigation now includes 97 cases, with many cases remaining in state courts.

January 17, 2023 NEC Update: Nine new NEC lawsuits were filed, bringing the total in the NEC MDL to 97. The litigation is expected to be relatively small, potentially leading to easier settlements.

January 6, 2023 NEC Update: A “science day” is planned in the NEC infant formula class action lawsuit to educate the judge on scientific issues involved.

November 11, 2022 NEC Update: In the NEC MDL, 8 cases have been identified for the bellwether program, with a structured discovery process outlined.

November 7, 2022 NEC Update: The judge in the NEC MDL granted a motion to remand 29 cases back to state courts in Pennsylvania, leaving 106 cases in the MDL.

October 8, 2022 NEC Update: The NEC MDL Judge is selecting from 66 NEC cases to include in the bellwether pool, with a structured process for trials.

September 15, 2022 NEC Update: The NEC MDL Judge issued a case management order for selecting bellwether test cases, with a detailed process outlined.

August 20, 2022 NEC Update: Attorneys in the NEC MDL submitted a plan for selecting bellwether candidate cases, aiming for a balanced representation of cases.

August 10, 2022 NEC Update: In the NEC lawsuit, pretrial procedures are being developed, with some cases remanded to state court.

July 27, 2022 NEC Update: A new study in JAMA Pediatrics emphasizes the severity of NEC among premature infants and its long-term impacts.

July 22, 2022 NEC Update: The NEC class action lawsuit is gaining momentum, with an increase in new cases filed and transferred into the MDL.

July 19, 2022 NEC Update: The AAP has issued new guidelines recommending avoidance of bovine infant formula to reduce NEC risks.

As of June 17, 2022, a total of over 100 cases are pending in the newly formed NEC MDL in the Northern District of Illinois (Abbott Laboratories Preterm Infant Nutrition Prod. Liab. Lit. – MDL No. 3026). 

Note that on June 6th, the number of pending cases in the NEC lawsuit was just around 78. This means that plenty of plaintiffs were recently added into the steadily growing number of cases in the MDL during the first 30 days.

All these lawsuits have recently been consolidated into a new MDL, which stands for multidistrict litigation. The cases in the newly formed baby formula NEC MDL were joined before Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer. We are now halfway through 2023 and lawyers expect around 30-60 cases to be filed each month from this period until the end of the year. 

We update this page frequently. Make sure to check here often to keep up with the NEC infant formula lawsuit.

Page Contents

What is necrotizing enterocolitis?

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a gastrointestinal disease that usually affects premature babies. It happens when intestinal tissue gets injured or inflamed, leading to intestinal tissue death and, in some cases, causing holes to form in the intestinal wall. 

Bacteria from the intestine may pass into the bloodstream, making the baby very sick or causing life-threatening blood infections. NEC cases differ in severity from patient to patient. While some infants only experience mild NEC that is accompanied by discomfort, others experience severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms. 

The condition also strikes and progresses very rapidly. Death rates among infants who have NEC are as high as 66%.


Signs that are indicative of NEC may appear over a few days or very suddenly in infants who otherwise appear to be healthy. The symptoms of necrotizing enterocolitis are listed below. 

  • Lethargy
  • Temperature instability
  • Swollen or bloated belly
  • Diarrhea with bloody stool
  • Trouble breathing
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Green or yellow vomit
  • Food that remains in the stomach and does not move through to the intestines

NEC can be a rapidly progressive disease, so identifying symptoms is crucial in getting prompt treatment. An estimated 8 in 10 babies who develop NEC survive. Some of these babies are likely to have long-term health issues due to NEC. 

What is the connection between baby formula and NEC?

Premature babies may have difficulty feeding from their mothers at first because their digestive systems are not yet fully developed. As a result, these small infants may not wake up for feeds and they may stop feeding before they are full, as feeding is a complicated skill and they tend to get tired very quickly. 

And even though leading health organizations assert the importance of human breast milk as the best nutritional choice for babies, health care providers may recommend baby formula products and human milk fortifiers for premature infants who may also have other health complications. 

However, there is a growing body of evidence that indicates infant formulas derived from cow’s milk like Similac and Enfamil increases the risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) when given to a premature infant. 

In a 2011 study, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions found that extremely premature babies who were fed with human donor milk were less likely to have NEC than those who had cow milk-based premature infant formula. 

Experts are not exactly sure why baby formula may increase the risk of NEC. However, they speculate that this is somehow due to cow milk formulas proliferating damaging bacteria in the underdeveloped intestines of premature infants. Needless to say, preemies cannot protect themselves from these diseases as well as more developed infants. 

Meanwhile, manufacturers of these damaging infant formulas have long ignored years of scientific research while conveniently raking in huge profits from their popular products. 

What formulas are in the NEC lawsuit?

Mead Johnson Nutrition and Abbott Laboratories, Inc., are two big companies that are accused of failing to inform the public of the dangers associated with their potentially toxic baby formula products. The formulas that are in the NEC lawsuit are listed below. 

  • Enfacare Powder
  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Acidified Liquid
  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Liquid High Protein
  • Enfamil Milk Fortifier Liquid Standard Protein
  • Enfamil Human Milk Fortifier Powder
  • Enfamil Premature 20 Cal
  • Enfamil Premature 24 Cal
  • Enfamil Premature 24 Cal/fl oz HP
  • Enfamil Premature 30 Cal
  • Enfamil NeuroPro Enfacare
  • Similac Alimentum
  • Similac Alimentum Expert Care
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier
  • Similac NeoSure
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Concentrated Liquid
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Powder
  • Similac Special Care 20
  • Similac Special Care 24
  • Similac Special Care 24 High Protein
  • Similac Special Care 30
  • Similac Human Milk Fortifier Hydrolyzed Protein- Concentrated Liquid

NEC baby formula lawsuits claim that the above mentioned products do not have warnings about the risk of NEC as their potential side effect. Parents also added that these baby formulas have no instructions or guidelines indicated for proper use. 

Parents and guardians who filed a NEC lawsuit allege that these cow milk formula products that were marketed as safe ended up causing injuries and death to their infants. 

Is there a recall on Enfamil and Similac baby formulas?

As of writing, there have been no NEC-related recalls for Enfamil and Similac formulas. But there has been a recent recall on certain Similac products in February 2022. 

This recall was initiated by Abbott Nutrition and included certain lots of Similac, Similac Alimentum, and Elecare powdered formulas produced at its factory in Sturgis, Michigan after four babies became sick with Cronobacter sakazakii infections after ingesting Similac baby formula.

All four infants were brought to the hospital. Devastatingly, two of them died and it is possible that Cronobacter infections contributed to their deaths. Cronobacter sakazakii is a type of bacteria that can cause diseases such as bacteremia, meningitis, sepsis, and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) when consumed by newborns through powdered infant formula. 

In connection with this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also investigated one complaint of a Salmonella infection in a baby who recently consumed a Similac baby formula from the Sturgis facility. 

However, the FDA said there wasn’t enough evidence to link the illness to any of the recalled Abbott Nutrition formula products. Meanwhile, in March 2022, the regulating agency released a preliminary inspection report stating that Abbott did not take steps to prevent their products from getting contaminated during manufacturing. 

Damages Recoverable in a NEC Lawsuit

NEC can have long-lasting effects on a child as well as their families and is also potentially deadly. The damages recoverable in a NEC lawsuit are listed below. 

  • Medical expenses: In the United States, studies have estimated that the average charge for a case of surgical NEC is around $400,000 to $500,000. Medical expenses may involve hospital stays, medical devices, physician’s diagnosis and treatments, and prescriptions. A plaintiff who wins or settles their lawsuit may obtain compensation for any past, ongoing, or future NEC-related medical care.
  • Loss of consortium: In a personal injury or wrongful death case, the injured person’s immediate family members like parents may ask for loss of consortium damages. This may be recovered if the injury or illness of the child had a negative impact on the companionship and emotional support that the parents used to share with the child.
  • Lost wages and reduced earning capability: Parents who had to take time off from work to look after their child may ask for compensation due to wages lost because of the child’s injury. Similarly, a child who has developed a NEC-related permanent disability that has reduced their ability to earn money may ask for future lost earnings.
  • Pain and suffering: As with other lawsuits, NEC lawsuits usually include compensation for pain and suffering. Infants with NEC may have an extended stay in the NICU, isolated from their parents, with their little bodies experiencing intense pain before and even after treatment. A NEC diagnosis may also cause emotional distress and suffering for the parents of the infant.
  • Wrongful death: If the infant died due to NEC, the survivors deserve compensation for their little one’s death. Aside from medical expenses and pain and suffering, they may also claim compensation for funeral and burial costs.

The earlier you talk to a personal injury attorney to ensure that you get the most out of your case, the better. A lawyer can help evaluate your case, give you a better idea of which legal steps to take next, and assist you in getting the rightful compensation for your injuries.

Who qualifies to file a NEC lawsuit?

As mentioned, the formula companies involved in the lawsuit did not include warning labels about the risk of NEC on their products. Therefore, no one has warned parents about the possibility of cow milk-based formulas giving their babies a life-threatening disease. 

Parents, guardians, or families who have babies that were born prematurely and were subsequently diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after ingesting a Similac or Enfamil baby formula product can file their claim for potential compensation. 

While in the hospital, your infant may have been fed Similac or Enfamil powdered formula without your knowledge. However, there is nothing to worry about as your NEC lawyer can help you retrieve medical records from the hospital and find out whether some of the recalled toxic baby formula products were given to your infant. 

Similarly, if you have fed your baby with the products involved in the lawsuit after they were discharged from the hospital, lawyers advise that you keep any proof of evidence that you have purchased their products. This could help with your potential NEC lawsuit. 

Estimated Payout Value

The NEC litigation is still in the early stages. That said, it may be hard to put a dollar figure on the potential value of these lawsuits. 

However, what we are certain of is that there are several factors that may affect the worth of a plaintiff’s NEC claim, such as the specific facts of the child’s case, which may include:

  • Ongoing medical care
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lifelong complications
  • If the infant died, making the claim a wrongful death case

If you believe you have a case against the makers of the cows milk based formula products that could cause NEC in premature babies, it is worth noting that in these circumstances, time is of the essence. 

There are statute of limitations that puts a deadline on filing a claim and this varies from state to state. In NEC cases, the question on the statute of limitations has a more complicated answer. This is because the deadline to file a lawsuit may be different for the child and for their parents. 

That said, you may want to act quickly to get a proper presentation. 

Why should you file a NEC lawsuit in 2023?

No parent is prepared for a child’s death. This is not how things usually work, as parents are not supposed to outlive their children. Losing a child or witnessing them develop lifelong health complications due to an illness are devastating events that could have negative effects on the emotional health and wellbeing of parents.

Families of a child who developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) may also struggle with medical bills and lost income, among others. Meanwhile, big companies such as Abbott and Mead Johnson continue to make lots of money from the success of their dangerous formula products. All because they did not warn parents and doctors about the risk of the serious gastrointestinal disease that could potentially lead to death and is linked to their formulas. 

Aside from seeking monetary compensation for your future financial security, filing a NEC lawsuit in 2023 also helps get the message across that these formula giants should be punished for prioritizing profit over the safety of countless innocent infants.

If you believe your child developed NEC after ingesting cow milk based formula, you may have a case against its manufacturers. Here at Drugwatcher, we work with like-minded attorneys who are dedicated to bringing justice to individuals who are victims of the negligent actions of manufacturers. 

You can contact us today and we will put you in touch with a NEC lawyer who is interested in hearing your case and navigating you through the steps that should be carried out to file your case.