Escambia woman sues baby formula maker; alleges child was harmed by ‘tainted’ formula

Jul 15, 2022

An Escambia County woman is one of dozens of people who have filed lawsuits in federal court suing the largest baby formula manufacturing company in the country.

Kelli Green filed a civil lawsuit Monday against Abbott Laboratories, doing business as Abbott Nutrition, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

Abbott Laboratories, which produces about 46.2% of the U.S. supply of baby formula, initiated a nationwide recall of its products earlier this year after the Food and Drug Administration began investigating bacterial infections among babies who consumed the company’s formula.

Green alleges her infant became severely ill and still suffers from lingering health effects after she was fed Abbott baby formula last year.

“I entrusted Abbott to produce safe baby formula that would help my infant grow and remain as healthy as she was the day she was born,” Green said in a written statement released through her attorneys. “Instead, I alongside countless other American families was burdened with not only the heartache and helplessness that comes with having a sick child, but overwhelming anger at how Abbott deceived our families and profited from formula contaminated by deadly bacteria.”

In a written statement, Abbott told the News Journal the company values the trust of parents and caregivers and ensuring the safety and quality of its products is its top priority.

“As part of Abbott’s quality processes, all infant formula products are tested for Salmonella and other pathogens and they must test negative before any product is released,” the statement said. “No distributed product from our Sturgis, Mich., facility has tested positive for the presence of Salmonella. Moreover, FDA itself removed the lone case of Salmonella from the investigation more than four months ago, after determining that there was insufficient information to definitively link the illness to powdered infant formula, and after (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) confirmed the case was not even linked to an outbreak.”

Green is being represented by Pensacola-based attorney Sam Geisler, who told the News Journal that he and his client intend to hold Abbott Laboratories accountable for a lack of quality control, poor business standards and the physical harm caused to Green’s child.

“They’re making what is often the sole source of sustenance for the most vulnerable population I think that there is, in terms of consumers,” Geisler said. “So, it’s very unique case with pretty extensive malfeasance, and I think we are only starting to see the tip of the iceberg for how extensive this malfeasance went.”

According to Green’s complaint, she purchased a baby formula for infants with lactose sensitivity made by Abbott Nutrition called Similac Alimentum from Amazon in October 2021.

The complaint alleged that identifying information on the formula’s container was later identified as a match with “tainted lots” of formula that were subsequently recalled.

“Shortly after starting the Alimentum product, Plaintiff’s infant suffered immediate and severe injury as a result of consuming the tainted product,” the complaint stated, noting symptoms such as bloody stool, severe diaper rash, lethargy and loss of appetite.

Cultures taken at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital led to a diagnoses of salmonella newport.

When the baby developed an ear infection, doctors were unable to immediately provide treatment because of the already ongoing treatment of the salmonella, resulting in long-term, ear-related health problems that have persisted up until this week.

“Recently, in June 2022, Plaintiff’s infant child was hospitalized due to ear-related issues that are still occurring because of the extended infection in the Fall 2021,” the complaint stated.

If Green were to win in court, Geisler said, his client would “certainly” have a chance of being well compensated for the wrongs imposed on her.

“But there is a tremendous accountability component,” Geisler said. “Whether it be punitive damages, whether it be some type of statutory damages or something, the most important thing that they want to see is accountability so that maybe someone in this formula company or some other formula company thinks twice before they start cutting corners.”

Green’s lawsuit is not the only case against Abbot Laboratories being handled by her attorney’s law firm.

The Pensacola-based legal firm Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz PLLC was working with a total of 56 clients related to their experiences with Abbott Nutrition as of Wednesday.

Of those 56 people, 45 had allegations related to physical injuries. However, only four of them had actually filed a lawsuit in court as of this week.

Although, a total of 29 similar cases against Abbott Laboratories had been filed in federal courts nationwide as of this week, Geisler said, potentially hundreds more are on the way.

“That’s typically how these types of cases work,” Geisler said. “The more parents start to realize a connection between their child and company, the more people start picking up the phone.”

Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8680.

by: Colin Warren-Hicks