Infant formula maker settles false advertising claims

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Case in Point

June 7, 2011

Infant formula maker settles false advertising claims 

A customer who purchased Enfamil Lipil because it was touted as a unique formulation that was better for babies filed a class action against the formula’s manufacturer, Mead Johnson. The class alleged false advertising and deceptive practices under various state laws. The defendant agreed to a settlement of between $8 million and $12 million, depending on how many claims are made. In re: Enfamil Lipil Mktg. & Sales Pracs. Litig.

For many years, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. advertised its Enfamil Lipil infant formula as the only formula that contained both DHA and ARA, two fatty acids that promote brain and eye development. Lipil was touted as a unique formulation and was a leading brand, despite its higher cost.

Lipil is actually Mead Johnson’s name for the simple combination of DHA and ARA, which numerous other brands contain. In the early 2000s, two courts directed the company to stop using misleading ads. In the last two years, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus cited Mead Johnson three times for false advertising and repeatedly ordered the company to change the ads. Despite these orders, Mead Johnson continued making its product claims.

A customer who purchased Enfamil Lipil because she believed it was better for her infant filed a class action against Mead Johnson on behalf of other purchasers, alleging false advertising and deceptive practices under various state laws.

After suit was filed, the defendant stopped advertising the product as unique and removed the Lipil label from most formulas.

The defendant settled for between $8 million and $12 million, depending on how many claims are made. Class members are entitled to up to two canisters of formula or up to $12 in cash, based on how long they used the product.

The court has preliminarily approved the settlement, and a fairness hearing is scheduled for September.

Citation: In re: Enfamil Lipil Mktg. & Sales Pracs. Litig., No. 0:11-md-02222 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 18, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: William C. Wright, West Palm Beach, Florida; AAJ members Timothy G. Blood and Thomas J. O’Reardon II, both of San Diego; Elaine A. Ryan and Patricia N. Syverson, both of Phoenix; and AAJ member Patrick J. Sheehan, Boston.


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