A CT federal judge won’t let Abbott Laboratories Inc. out of a suit alleging its baby formula made with cow’s milk caused a premature infant’s death, with two of the surviving counts waiting on answers to questions sent to the state Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill dismissed claims from Anika Hunte for intentional misrepresentation, violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, and two of her theories under the Connecticut Product Liability Act, while allowing claims for failure to warn, design defect and negligence under the CPLA, as well as her and her husband’s claims for loss of consortium.

Hunte gave birth on Jan. 30, 2018, to her son, Aries, who was premature and died three months later in the neonatal intensive care unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. She alleges the hospital gave her son three types of formula made by Abbott that contain cow’s milk, and the formulas caused her son to develop necrotizing enterocolitis and die. 

Abbott moved to dismiss all but one claim in the suit, the design defect claim, saying much of the complaint was similar to another case making similar allegations involving the same attorneys that had been partly dismissed before the plaintiffs dropped the suit voluntarily, while the design defect claim had been deferred by the judge in that case.

As such, Judge Underhill allowed the design defect theory under the CPLA to go forward. He also allowed Hunte’s failure to warn claims to proceed because the parties dispute whether the learned intermediary doctrine applies in the case. Under that doctrine, a manufacturer only needs to warn a learned intermediary — such as a physician — rather than the patient or end user. 

Hunte alleges Abbott failed to warn not just her but her physicians about the dangers posed by the formula.


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