May 2, 2012
Attorneys Wendy Fleishman and Paulina do Amaral of the national plaintiffs' law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, announced that Devon Addonizio of New York, New York, today filed a personal injury lawsuit charging that contaminated SimplyThick infant food thickener caused her daughter catastrophic and permanent injuries. The action was filed against Simply Thick, LLC, Thermo Pac, LLC, Ameriqual Group, LLC, and H.J. Heinz Company.
The Addonizio complaint alleges that SimplyThick was contaminated as a result of a manufacturing problem at the Stone Mountain, Georgia plant. Ms. Addonizio's baby was fed SimplyThick at the hospital and later discharged, because the unsuspecting doctors and nurses had no idea that the food thickener was potentially dangerous for the infant. As a result of the ingestion of SimplyThick, Ms. Addonizio's baby, and other babies fed the same food thickener, suffered from a potentially fatal condition called Necrotizing Enterocolitis ("NEC").
NEC is a rare disease in children who have been discharged from the hospital. It causes inflammation and death of intestinal tissue. NEC has a mortality rate of 25%, meaning it kills 1 out of every four victims. NEC can cause severe life-long impairment in children who survive it.
Ms. Fleishman stated that "there is an enormous concern when manufacturers fail to manufacture food products in a safe manner, consistent with the FDA's requirements. We, as consumers, expect that products, like SimplyThick, which are intended to help people who cannot swallow, will be safe when they are sold to consumers for use. Defendants' alleged failure to keep contaminated products off the market - if proven to be true - is unconscionable."
"There are no words to explain how much suffering this has caused our little girl and how much despair and helplessness we as her family have endured," said Ms. Addonizio of her daughter's injuries.
"Infant food manufacturers owe a duty to parents and babies to prepare and sell safe products," stated Attorney do Amaral.
The complaint charges that Simply Thick and the other defendants failed to properly thermally process and test the safety of its product for use in premature infants. As a result, a beautiful baby suffered horrendous, painful and traumatic, life-threatening injuries and continues to be at risk for long-term medical problems.
In May 2011, the FDA warned that SimplyThick may cause the life-threatening condition of necrotizing enterocolitis ("NEC") and that the product should not be fed to prematurely-born infants. Soon thereafter, the FDA conducted an inspection of Thermo Pac, LLC's Stone Mountain, Georgia, facility, where SimplyThick was manufactured, and found numerous problems at the manufacturing plant.
As alleged in the complaint, based on the facility inspection, the FDA found that Thermo Pac, LLC failed to properly thermally process acidified food, including SimplyThick, in a manner sufficient to destroy microorganisms dangerous to public health. The FDA also found bacillus cereus, a type of bacteria, present in twelve of thirty samples of finished SimplyThick product that it tested.
On June 4, 2011, the FDA announced that Simply Thick, LLC, was recalling SimplyThick manufactured at the Stone Mountain processing plant.
Injuries Suffered by the Infant as Set Forth in the Complaint
Just days before her discharge, the hospital began adding SimplyThick to the infant's food. Ms. Addonizio was instructed by hospital staff to add SimplyThick to her daughter's formula. Within days after her initial discharge, the infant's health rapidly deteriorated. On May 13, 2010, the child was having trouble breathing and she was rushed to the emergency department at the Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Despite having been discharged from the hospital in good health just 9 days before, Ms. Addonizio's baby was diagnosed with NEC shortly after starting to consume SimplyThick and she was taken for surgery. Because doctors found that there were spotty areas along the entire length of the infant's intestine and removal of the entire intestine was a last resort, the infant's intestines were instead put in an ostomy bag (a silo outside of her body).
Following the initial surgery, her condition continued to deteriorate until on May 18, 2010, despite the danger involved with additional surgery, Ms. Addonizio consented to additional surgery to save her daughter's life. During the second surgery 18 centimeters of the infant's intestine was removed.
Despite the success of the second surgery, the infant's treatment course during the ensuing six months was excruciating and complicated. In total, the infant spent over four months in a critical care unit and seven weeks in rehabilitation recovering from her injuries allegedly caused by SimplyThick. She returned home finally on November 12, 2010, when she was just shy of 8 months old.
The lawsuit was filed today in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.
Legal Resources for Parents
Lieff Cabraser is representing parents across America whose infants have suffered severe injuries allegedly due to Simply Thick. Visit our SimplyThick case page to learn more about the Simply Thick recall lawsuits.
Or parents may call Lieff Cabraser toll-free at 212-355-9500 and ask to speak to Attorney Wendy Fleishman, Paulina do Amaral, or Dan Leathers. All inquiries will be handled with the strictest confidentiality and sensitivity. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your case.
About Lieff Cabraser
Recognized as "one of the nation's premier plaintiff's firms" by The American Lawyer magazine, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a sixty-plus attorney law firm with offices in San Francisco, New York and Nashville. For the last eight consecutive years, the National Law Journal has selected Lieff Cabraser as one of the top plaintiffs' law firms in America. Learn more about us at www.lieffcabraser.com.
SimplyThick is a registered trademark of Simply Thick, LLC. The use of this trademark is for informational and product identification purposes only. Lieff Cabraser is in no way affiliated with Simply Thick, LLC.
Paulina do Amaral
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP