The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has chosen the Northern District of Illinois for lawsuits against Abbott Laboratories for the tainted baby formula. Abbott wanted the venue to be in Connecticut but the Panel chose Illinois since the majority of the cases are from Illinois and Abbott is based in the area.
At least half a dozen of those lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, with filings on Feb. 25 and March 1. Many of the lawsuits allege that north suburban-based Abbott failed to warn consumers about the risks of feeding the formula to their babies before they purchased it and that Abbott didn’t promptly replace the recalled formulas.
The FDA announced Feb. 17 it was investigating complaints of Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella Newport infections among four babies who reportedly consumed powdered infant formula made at an Abbott facility in Sturgis, Michigan. All four babies were hospitalized, and Cronobacter may have contributed to one baby’s death, according to the FDA.
The FDA said it found several instances of Cronobacter sakazakii in environmental samples, and a review of the firm’s internal records also “indicated environmental contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii and the firm’s destruction of product due to the presence of Cronobacter.”
Abbott announced the same day it was voluntarily recalling Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powder formulas made at that Sturgis facility.
On Feb. 28, Abbott expanded its recall to include one lot of Similac PM 60/40 made in the facility after the death of a baby who consumed the formula and tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii. That case, like the others, is still under investigation.
The Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe health issues including meningitis and bowel damage with the threat of the bacteria migrating to other parts of the infant's body.