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Lawsuit: Enfamil Baby Formula 'Contaminated' By Insects

A proposed class action lawsuit alleges Mead Johnson & Company, LLC’s Enfamil Infant Formula was “contaminated by disease-carrying insects” and was unfit for human consumption. The 35-page lawsuit was filed by a New York woman on behalf of her child, who was allegedly hospitalized after becoming physically ill from consuming the formula. The complaint alleges violations of New York General Business Law, as well as breach of implied warranty and negligence.

The Defendant

  • Mead Johnson & Company, LLC – described in the complaint as a global child and infant nutrition company headquartered in Illinois

The Lawsuit’s Allegations

The plaintiff alleges she and proposed class members (detailed below) were misled by the defendant into purchasing an unsafe product that resulted from the company’s negligent manufacturing process. Moreover, the case attempts to draw a direct connection between the defendant’s alleged wrongdoing and monetary damages incurred by proposed class members resulting from physical illness and related costs for medically monitoring infants’ and children’s conditions.

The Plaintiff and Her Child’s Alleged Experience

The Brooklyn woman behind the lawsuit claims she fed her then ten-month-old infant daughter Enfamil that she later discovered had been contaminated by an insect (a picture of the alleged contamination was included in the complaint, which we reposted below). Soon thereafter, the plaintiff’s child allegedly became “gravely” ill and underwent two hospitalizations. The plaintiff claims she also discovered insects in other cans of Enfamil on separate occasions.

Mead Johnson & Company Enfamil alleged bug contamination

According to the complaint, the plaintiff had been feeding her daughter Enfamil since her birth in April 2016. In November of that year, the plaintiff allegedly discovered a red insect in a can of Enfamil, an incident that the case says, “was witnessed by a number of individuals” since it reportedly happened at a holiday gathering. Video was also taken of the incident, the lawsuit says.

The plaintiff says that after contacting the defendant and sending the can in which the insect was allegedly found to the company for testing, she believed the incident to be a mere fluke as she had been using Enfamil “for many months without incident.”

The Second Bug

The lawsuit claims the deterioration of the plaintiff’s daughter’s health coincided with the discovery of a second insect in December 2016. From the lawsuit:

“On December 20, 2016, [the child plaintiff] became gravely ill, and the following day she was taken to a local clinic, where she registered a fever of 103. The physician diagnosed her with a stomach virus and prescribed Motrin. [The child plaintiff’s] deterioration then accelerated, as she began to suffer from continuous vomiting and diarrhea. On December 23, 2016, [the adult plaintiff] took her to the emergency room at Long Island Jewish Hospital, where she required medication already in the waiting room before being formally admitted. [The child plaintiff] registered a fever of 100 and was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. The doctors had to use a catheter to obtain a urine sample and then hooked [the child plaintiff] up to a cannula in order to administer antibiotics intravenously. A physician then prescribed her more antibiotics.”

From here, the lawsuit claims the child’s condition did not improve over the next three days, and paints a terribly grave picture:

“Not only did the vomiting and diarrhea persist, [the child plaintiff] also became listless and indeed looked barely alive. Fungus appeared on her behind and white sores appeared on her mouth. [The child plaintiff] was being fed very little of anything at this point, as she could barely eat. On December 26, 2016, she was again taken to the local clinic, where she was prescribed medication for the fungus and sores.”

By the end of December 2016, the plaintiff claims her child slowly began to recover, although she reportedly continued to experience bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.

The Third Bug

The lawsuit claims that on January 1, 2017, as the child plaintiff’s illness subsided, her mother then encountered another contaminated can of Enfamil, one that allegedly contained another insect that was “dried and flattened.” The plaintiff claims she then opened another can of Enfamil with the same result: yet another insect.

February 2017 Whistleblower Lawsuit and Mead Johnon’s Alleged “Culture of Reckless Indifference”

The complaint notes that an ex-Mead Johnson employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit in February 2017 after she was terminated from her position as Global Product Compliance Director. In that action, the plaintiff—who the lawsuit says was a 25-year veteran at the company and holds a chemical engineering degree—claimed her firing was an act of retaliation because she had “escalated concerns” about safety issues related to how Mead Johnson allegedly manufactures its infant formula.

The whistleblower’s lawsuit cited concerns about the safety of Mead Johnson’s “ready-to-use” liquid infant formula, as opposed to the powdered formula mentioned in the complaint at the bottom of this page. About the whistleblower plaintiff’s allegations, this most recent lawsuit says she drew “a disturbing picture of [the defendant’s] culture of reckless indifference to the safety and purity of all its infant products,” and claims Mead Johnson’s senior vice president put up roadblocks opposing her motion to “hold back batches of [the product] based on the presence of insects in certain samples."

Of the supposed workplace culture issues at Mead Johnson, the whistleblower’s case claimed certain high-level employees would “intimidate subordinates in Quality and Internal Audit roles into not reporting the true severity of a defective product or process” and also incentivize workers to downplay risks.

The Proposed Class

The lawsuit seeks to cover a proposed class of consumers who were exposed to the defendant’s representations and purchased Enfamil in New York during the applicable limitations period.

The full complaint can be read below.

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