The Complex Terrain of Baby NEC Multidistrict Litigation

  • Overview of the Baby NEC Multidistrict Litigation 
  • Judge Pallmeyer’s Pivotal Decisions in NEC MDL 
  • The Science Behind Baby NEC Claims 
  • Anticipating the Bellwether Trials in Baby NEC Litigation 
  • State Law Applications and Their Impact on NEC Cases 
  • Corporate Ethics and Its Influence in Baby NEC Litigation 
  • Procedural Milestones and Their Impact on the Litigation Timeline 
  • The Complexities of Document Management in Mass Tort Litigation 

The multidistrict litigation (MDL) encompassing claims related to baby necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is evolving with critical judicial activities that could establish important legal precedents for analogous litigations in the future. 

Key Developments in the NEC MDL Proceedings 

The MDL, which centralizes approximately 200 baby NEC claims, is advancing towards significant judicial milestones. The presiding judge, Honorable Judge Pallmeyer, has been instrumental in delineating the discovery and motions schedule, which is vital for dictating the pace of the ongoing litigation. 

Notably, the judicial proceedings such as the Science Day and the selection of bellwether trials are set to significantly shape the trajectory of the MDL. These selections will play a crucial role in informing settlement discussions and subsequent trial strategies. 

The application of disparate state laws to individual claims further underscores the complexity and heterogeneity inherent in these cases. Additionally, corporate behavior investigations into prominent companies like Abbott and Mead Johnson add an extra layer of intricacy and ethical considerations to the legal challenges presented. 

Current Status and Anticipated Progression 

As of mid-August 2023, the MDL’s progression reflects the invested interest of the parties involved in resolving these multifaceted disputes. Although the MDL is at an early stage, Judge Pallmeyer’s balanced approach to adopting a discovery and motions schedule from proposals by both plaintiffs and defendants, while leaving essential deadlines open, marks a significant step in the litigation process. 

The confidential Science Day held on May 3 provided a platform for discussing general causation issues, emphasizing the scientific underpinnings essential to the claims’ success. 

Further decisions on the procedural timelines are expected to emerge from the status conference scheduled for September 8, 2023. These rulings will likely affect the timing of bellwether trials, tentatively set for late 2024 or early 2025. 

The intricate analysis required by Judge Pallmeyer in her rulings reflects a nuanced approach to the legal standards and the individuality of claims under various state laws, highlighting the depth of the litigation. 

Implications of External Corporate Investigations 

While the FTC’s investigation into the defendant companies for potential collusion and misconduct is separate from the NEC litigation, the outcome could potentially sway juror opinions and influence the legal strategies of the parties involved. 

Outlook for Settlement and Trial Proceedings 

With the first bellwether trials not expected until at least late 2025, the MDL is indicative of a protracted legal engagement, with all parties bracing for an extended period of litigation. The extension of bellwether trial selections and the substantial volume of document production by the defendants point to the ongoing challenges in managing large-scale litigations such as this. 


The baby NEC MDL exemplifies the intricate dynamics of mass torts, with the judiciary’s discretionary powers playing a critical role. Each procedural advancement brings the legal fraternity closer to discerning the full implications for all stakeholders.