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One day after Abbott Laboratories announced the Similac recall for its powdered infant formula, a class action suit was filed. The named plaintiff in the suit is a Kathleen A. Brandner, individually and on behalf of her minor child, against defendants Abbott Labs and Sam's Club. The plaintiffs are being represented by Michael Brandner Jr. of The Brandner Law Firm and Stephen S. Kreller of The Kreller Law Firm in New Orleans, where the suit was filed in federal court.
As discussed in a prior post, Abbott recalled the Similac formula that was manufactured in a plant in Michigan after beetle pieces and beetle larvae were found in a small percentage of the products made at that facility. At the time of the recall, the FDA said there were no immediate health risks, but the company stated the contaminated formula could cause some babies stomach aches that might result in a refusal to eat.
The Louisiana Record reports that the suit contains various causes of action, but one main issue is that of misrepresentation. The plaintiffs claim the company intentionally and negligent misrepresented the product as safe, when it in fact contained beetle parts. The plaintiffs are seeking an award of refunds, general, punitive, and special damages as well as attorneys' fees and court costs.
Class action suits are a key tool in consumer suits, such as the BP suits, the Toyota suits and the Chinese drywall suits. A court will often certify a lawsuit as a class action if it meets certain criteria. The court will look to see if it would be most efficient to try the many claims together, because they contain involve the same or very similar events and are seeking similar remedies. In some cases, the individuals' injuries could be fairly minor, so that it would not be cost effective for them seek legal redress on their own. Together, however, the value of the claims of the class add up, and suing as a class can help organize and pay for attorneys, evidence gathering and expert witnesses, therefore controlling those costs.
The class action suit is also common in employment related cases against major retailers or other companies who have thousands of employees across the country. The class action recently settled with Walmart is just one example.
In the suit stemming from the Similac recall, all the plaintiffs making up the class would have used the same product in the same way with the same expectations of safety that they claim were not met. According to the Record, the suit was filed September 23, and U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance has been assigned to the case.