Parents with young children have felt the pressure created by the baby formula recall for more than a year now. Many households depend on formula for an infant’s nutrition.
Parents trust the companies that make formula with their babies’ lives, as the formula may be the sole source of nutrition for a child. Unfortunately, contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella newport bacteria at one of the biggest infant formula companies in the country initially led to a massive recall, followed by waves of formula shortages.
Parents have been left in a very difficult position, sometimes traveling long distances just to find a few containers of specialty formula for their medically-vulnerable children. Now, the Department of Justice has started exploring the possibility of criminal prosecution related to the formula contamination. What might that prosecution mean for families?
Criminal convictions bolster civil cases
Bringing a lawsuit against a business in civil court requires that plaintiffs show that the actions or negligence on the part of the business directly caused harm. With the infant formula recall, a family’s case would likely hinge on the medical records of the child affected by the contaminated formula. Even then, lawyers for the defense could try to raise questions about other potential sources of that bacterial contamination.
If the federal government determines that criminal activity contributed to the contamination and recall, professionals at the organization may face prosecution, or the company may face large fines. If the government prosecutes executives or safety workers for the tragic oversights that have led to multiple illnesses and infant deaths, those criminal cases will have a direct impact on the affected families.
The evidence used in criminal court can potentially help build a family’s civil claim. The direct responsibility of the organization will also be much harder to deny or downplay when there has been criminal prosecution related to the incident.
The courts can help those struggling with lifetime losses
Losing a family member or having a child struggle with long-term health issues because of contaminated baby food could mean a lifetime of expenses and trauma for a family. Taking the company responsible for the situation to civil court could result in considerable, justified compensation for those harmed by recent infant formula contamination and the recalls that resulted from it.