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(Reuters) – A federal judicial panel has created new federal mass tort dockets to handle claims that babies sickened by formula from an Abbott Laboratories plant closed earlier this year over safety concerns, and that Merck & Co Inc’s Gardasil vaccine against human papillomavirus caused serious autoimmune conditions.
The Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation on Friday transferred 18 lawsuits over the Abbott formula – of which 17 are proposed class actions – to U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in Chicago. A separate multidistrict litigation (MDL), including 97 lawsuits, over claims that Abbott formula led to a deadly illness in preterm infants is already pending in that district before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer.
Plaintiffs in the new MDL allege that their babies became ill after consuming formula from the plant. Abbott, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has said there is no evidence it ever sold any contaminated formula.
Sam Geisler of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, a lawyer for some of the plaintiffs, said in a statement that he was pleased with the panel’s order.
“On behalf of all of the families impacted by Abbott’s negligence, disregard for safety and heinous misconduct, we will continue to fight and hold them accountable,” he said.