A recent congressional report revealed that many baby foods sold in the Washington, D.C. area contain high levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, and cadmium. As one news source reported, investigators raised concern over the levels which surpassed levels allowed in products like bottled water. The report highlights the U.S. government’s lenient approach to oversight of the safety of baby food.
Exposure to heavy metals has been linked to behavioral impairments, brain damage, and death. Four companies, Nurture, Inc. (which sells HappyBABY), Beech-Nut, Gerber, and Hain Celestial Group (which sells Earth’s Best), provided information about their testing policies and results. Three other companies, Walmart (which sells Parent’s Choice brand), Sprout Organic Foods, and Campbell Soup Company (which makes Plum Organics brand), did not provide information regarding testing policies and results. Lawmakers raised concerns over the potentially higher levels contained in the products that did not provide the requested information.
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration does not set limits on heavy metal limits for baby foods, apart from arsenic levels in rice cereal. The levels of inorganic arsenic from two companies that tested such levels exceeded the levels set for infant rice cereal. Although heavy metals occur naturally in some vegetables in grains, the amounts may increase if manufacturers add other ingredients to the food, such as vitamin and mineral mixes.
To recover damages, a plaintiff must prove the damages by a preponderance of the evidence and cannot be based on speculation. Damage calculations must be sufficiently detailed to support a damages award.
Damages in a Washington, D.C. Product Liability Claim
Plaintiffs who are successful in a Washington, D.C. product liability case may be able to recover a range of damages. Damages are generally awarded to successful plaintiffs to compensate the plaintiff for the harm suffered. Compensatory damages may include compensation for past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and others.
Punitive damages are available in some Washington, D.C. product liability cases. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant and act as a deterrent for others. In a Washington, D.C. case, punitive damages are only awarded if the defendant commits a wrongful act with ill will, recklessness, wantonness, oppressiveness, fraud, or willful disregard of the plaintiff’s right, or with a state of mind reflecting malice or its equivalent. Washington, D.C. courts have held that the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s malicious intent by clear and convincing evidence. Washington, D.C. Courts have not set limits on the ratio between the harm to the plaintiff and the punitive damages award. However, in practice, they are generally limited to a single-digit ratio.
Contact a Washington, D.C. Injury Attorney for Immediate Assistance
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury due to someone else’s wrongful conduct, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Washington, D.C. product liability attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen have years of experience handling all types of personal injury lawsuits. They also have the skills necessary to successfully represent injured clients throughout the entire process. They handle a wide range of personal injury claims in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options, call (800) 654-1949 or contact us online.