Hain Celestial Group and a number of parents suing the baby food maker and others over alleged toxins in their products urged the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation not to create an industrywide MDL, saying grouping all the claims against baby food companies wouldn’t speed up the litigation.
Charles Schaffer of Levin Sedran & Berman LLP, representing some of the parents, told the panel that a national, industrywide MDL isn’t always what it is cracked up to be. Due to the number of defendants and attorneys, Schaffer said that in his experience they get bogged down.
If the panel does wish to consolidate the cases, Schaffer suggested that they be grouped by defendant, since some already are.
Major baby food manufacturers have been hit with suits in recent months alleging that they allow high levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury into their products and mislead consumers about how healthy their baby food is. The bid to consolidate the cases into an MDL stemmed from those suits.
The lawsuits followed a February report from the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform that found high levels of heavy metals in products Hain and other companies. Hain has said the report is based on outdated information that does not reflect the company’s current practices.
Attorneys representing other groups of parents said that they supported consolidation, arguing that it would make the litigation more efficient, but differed on where to send the cases.