If your baby developed NEC and you believe Enfamil formula or another milk-based product was part of their feeding during their hospital stay, you may seek compensation from the formula manufacturers or healthcare providers.
An Enfamil NEC attorney with our firm can evaluate your case and help you decide if a lawsuit is appropriate in your case. If so, you can rely on them to build your Enfamil NEC lawsuit and advocate for you throughout all legal proceedings. Dolman Law Group offers our help on a contingency-fee basis, so we only get paid if you do.
What Is NEC?
NEC stands for necrotizing enterocolitis. It is a debilitating and dangerous condition that primarily affects infants in the first weeks after birth. The most severe cases of NEC can kill infants, and many babies who do survive an NEC infection face lifelong challenges to their health and development.
NEC originates in the walls of the intestines, where inflammation develops and can cause the lining to weaken and ultimately deteriorate. The tissue that lines the intestines begins to die, and the disease can rapidly spread throughout the gastrointestinal system.
In the most dangerous cases, NEC will eat away at the intestinal walls and cause a perforation. Once there is a perforation of the intestines, a baby is at risk of further complications as bacteria and other material such as waste can seep into the baby's abdominal cavity. This can result in infection, sepsis, and other complications without quick diagnosis and treatment.
NEC Is a Treatable Condition
Antibiotics can treat NEC if caught early. However, if the condition progresses rapidly or the health of the infant deteriorates at a concerning rate, surgery may need to save the life of the infant and stop the progression of damage through the gastrointestinal system.
What Are the Challenges to a Baby That Develops NEC?
The infants most commonly affected by necrotizing enterocolitis are born at an early gestational age. Premature infants born before they reach 32 weeks are at the highest risk of developing NEC and the most serious complications. It is possible for a full-term baby to also develop NEC, and it is more common in full-term infants with other health challenges or conditions.
After an NEC diagnosis, the immediate focus of medical providers and parents is on the baby's survival. This condition can progress fast and doctors may need to make decisions from one moment to the next. An infant's condition can go from stable to life-threatening in a period of just a few hours. When an infant's life is at risk or the condition continues to worsen with no signs of resolving with non-invasive treatments, surgery becomes necessary.
Surgery for NEC often entails the dissection and removal of the portion of the intestines that sustained irreparable damage due to the condition. Depending on the progression within the gastrointestinal system, a large portion of the intestines may require removal. Unfortunately, NEC itself causes severe damage to an infant's body, but many times the necessary surgery puts an infant at high risk of complications.
How NEC Can Affect Babies' Short- and Long-Term Health
Challenges many babies face after NEC include:
- Infection – The most serious threat to an infant during treatment for NEC and after surgery is the development or spread of infection from bacteria that enter the baby's gastrointestinal system. This life-threatening complication can cause sepsis and death if an aggressive infection enters the infant's bloodstream.
- Developmental delays –The first few weeks of an infant's life can be critical to the development of not only their bodies but also their brains. NEC attacks an infant's intestines and often requires drastic measures to combat it, such as withholding feeding or tube feeding. This can cause significant delays in infant development, as they can't get the nutrients they need. In some infants, the delays can be temporary, and the baby can catch up, but those with serious NEC that requires intensive treatment and sustain permanent damage can face delays in their cognitive and physical development, such as growth and weight gain, which can have lifelong effects.
- Lifelong health problems –NEC can cause health problems while the condition is active (and afterward for many survivors of the disease). Infants after a battle with NEC can end up with short bowel syndrome or liver disease. These are lifelong conditions that require continuous care and lifestyle adaptations to manage and remain healthy. Some infants continue having difficulties with feeding as they grow into childhood and then adulthood; and some may never fully be able to consume food through eating or drinking due to the permanent damage caused by the condition.
Does Enfamil Cause NEC?
Due to the frequency of NEC in premature infants, many of these cases occur in babies in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Babies in the NICU receive care to help them grow and thrive after a traumatic birth or other health challenges that remain because of their prematurity or other congenital conditions. Part of the care in the NICU involves the nourishment of these infants.
Hospitals May Give a Baby Formula If the Mother Cannot Produce Breast Milk
Breast milk is the most beneficial nutrition for infants, particularly premature babies who require NICU care. Unfortunately, there are some situations in which a mother is unavailable after the birth of a baby or unable to provide sufficient breast milk to sustain the baby's needs. In these circumstances, the healthcare providers in the NICU will choose the formula for the baby's feeding.
Unfortunately, many providers choose to feed these infants formula to save costs as buying breast milk from other sources can be expensive. A common choice in NICUs is the Enfamil brand. Enfamil makes infant formulas that contain milk products and byproducts. Studies have shown that infants are at higher risk of NEC if drinking a cow's milk-based formula. In comparison, infants given a diet of solely breast milk have a much lower risk of contracting this condition.
Companies, such as Enfamil, are aware of these links between their product and the cause of NEC in infants, particularly premature infants. Enfamil continues to not only manufacture these milk-based formula products but to promote and sell these products to healthcare providers to give to babies in NICUs.
Can You Sue Enfamil If Your Baby Develops NEC?
If your baby feeds on Enfamil while in the NICU and then develops NEC, you are likely eligible to fight for compensation for the losses and damages your baby and family suffer. A lawsuit against a manufacturer, such as Enfamil, for the product will fall under the umbrella of product liability law.
When a company knowingly puts the public at risk of injury or disease because of the use of its dangerous or defective product, itcan be liable for losses to the victims that use those products. Enfamil is aware of the risk of its milk-based products on newborn infants, but it continues to make and market this product without warning parents of the possibility and link of developing necrotizing enterocolitis after its consumption.
Who Else May Have Injured My Baby With Enfamil?
Liability for an NEC diagnosis and its aftermath can be tricky. In some cases, multiple parties may owe you and your baby compensation for the injuries and damages caused. A lawyer will help you determine what parties may be liable to you and take action against any party that might have a hand in the injuries to your baby.
You may be able to file a lawsuit if your baby is feeding on Enfamil while in the hospital and they develop NEC. Although you can feel alarmed to learn that your infant drank Enfamil while in the NICU or Maternity Ward, that is not enough to take legal action against the parties responsible. Your baby must develop NEC to pursue a case against another party.
Parties that can be liable for NEC injuries include:
- Manufacturer of the formula –The manufacturers of Enfamil milk-based formulas can owe your baby and your family compensation if your infant develops NEC after drinking one of their milk-based products.
- Healthcare professional – The provider that authorizes the use of Enfamil milk-based products to feed your baby while in the NICU could owe you compensation if your baby develops NEC. Furthermore, a doctor can also be liable for failing to promptly diagnose and treat NEC. Not all babies that develop NEC do so from formula, and other circumstances can result in NEC. If your baby's doctors and providers do not take the measures necessary to protect your baby from NEC or prevent the life-threatening risks and damage of an NEC infection, they can also be liable for your losses.
- Healthcare organization – There are circumstances in which it is not just the decision of a provider to give a baby an Enfamil milk-based product. Hospitals often make budgetary decisions and choose the products that they carry in their facilities, such as a NICU. If a hospital is the driving force behind feeding Enfamil milk-based products to newborn infants and/or premature infants, you may hold it liable for the injuries of your baby and family.
Types of Legal Actions You Can Take If You're Filing an Enfamil NEC Lawsuit
Litigation for Enfamil NEC lawsuits is in its early stages. Claimants allege that these companies failed to warn consumers about the dangers of Enfamil formula, under breach of warranty and strict liability.
How you hold the liable party or parties accountable is up to you, but you have a handful of options, which are:
- A class action: When one group of plaintiffs files a case against the defendant and divides the final award amongst themselves
- A multidistrict litigation (MDL): When plaintiffs from all over the country file separate cases before they are consolidated before one judge
- A personal injury lawsuit: When only one plaintiff files a case and requests compensation for their own damages from the liable party or parties
After reviewing your situation, an Enfamil NEC lawsuit lawyer can help you determine which legal route is most appropriate for you.
What an NEC Lawsuit Attorney at Dolman Law Group Can Do for You and Your Family
Navigating the legal process, especially at a nationwide level against big-name companies, can be daunting. Have a product liability lawyer on our team take your case while you tend to your child.
You can depend on your lawyer to:
- Collect your child's medical records and establish a connection between their Enfamil formula use and NEC diagnosis
- Gather other types of evidence, such as relevant photographs and witness testimony
- Consult medical experts to better understand your child's diagnosis and prognosis
- Handle all communication with the liable parties in question, their insurance companies, their legal representatives, and the courts
- Calculate your damages and negotiate a settlement
- Help you comply with federal and state deadlines
- Represent you throughout all legal proceedings
Your lawyer will also alert you if anything changes in your case. If you have any questions or reservations at any point in your case, reach out to your lawyer—they will answer you right away.
We Will Only Collect Compensation If You Do
Our attorneys take injury cases based on a contingency-fee agreement, meaning:
- We don't charge any upfront or out-of-pocket legal fees.
- We don't take any retainers.
- There are no hourly rates.
- Our firm finances your entire case.
Our attorney's fees come out of the financial award they secure for you. That way, you won't have anything to lose when you enlist our help.
How Much Compensation Could You Seek in a Case Due to Injuries from Enfamil?
Your NEC case is unique. The health of your baby and the circumstances of your case require individual evaluations and approaches to ensure that the compensation you seek covers your losses, now and in the future. While NEC treatment is expensive and medical bills for the care of your infant can be significant, future costs of the effects of NEC are uncertain and difficult to ascertain.
The law allows you to seek the damage that your infant suffers due to an NEC diagnosis, and for the impact the injuries will have on their life. While some babies may only face short-term challenges during their infancy, others may have lifelong health complications because formula gave them NEC.
The compensation you seek in your case must consider all of the losses your baby and your family will face because of this condition.
Types of Damages You Can Pursue in an Enfamil NEC Lawsuit
Damages in an Enfamil NEC lawsuit can include:
- The costs of medical care for your infant now and in the future in cases of permanent damage or disability
- The loss of income of the parents of the baby as they must take extra precautions and care due to the baby's fragile state
- The loss of potential income and productivity of the baby if they suffer permanent disabilities that prevent them from living their life to the fullest
- Pain and suffering from the NEC infection and injuries the baby suffers as well as any medical interventions such as surgery and the chronic conditions and health problems that may follow
If your child didn't survive NEC, you could file a wrongful death action. In this case, you can seek damages for your child's funeral and burial arrangement costs and end-of-life medical expenses.
When Should You Contact an Enfamil NEC Attorney?
If you receive a diagnosis of NEC in your baby and they are in the care of a NICU or other healthcare provider, contact an Enfamil NEC attorney's team. You may not yet know or have the answers to what formula your baby received while under their medical care.
Do not hesitate to take action against the parties responsible. NEC is preventable when a baby does not receive a milk-based formula such as Enfamil. An Enfamil NEC attorney at Dolman Law Group can help you fight for the compensation your baby needs and deserves for their future. Connect with our firm today for a free case review with one of our team members.
The Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions wherein we are not licensed. Thus, we will follow each State's ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved.