DiCello Levitt partner makes legal history as part of plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel group in massive products liability case against Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson
CHICAGO – Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann made legal history today, becoming the first black woman ever appointed plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel in a multidistrict litigation. Debrosse Zimmermann was appointed to the role in the massive products liability MDL, In Re: Abbott Laboratories, et al., Preterm Infant Nutrition Products Liability Litigation, against two of the world’s largest manufacturers of infant formula, Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) and Mead Johnson. Comprised of more than 60 state and federal lawsuits filed across the U.S., the case stems from allegations against the manufacturers of infant formulas Similac (Abbott) and Enfamil (Mead) by parents of premature infants who were fed with that formula and developed the deadly neonatal condition, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
Debrosse Zimmermann, managing partner of national plaintiff’s law firm, DiCello Levitt’s Birmingham, Ala. office, and co-managing partner of its Washington D.C office, joins a diverse co-lead counsel group that includes Timothy J. Becker, C. Andrew Childers, Wendy R. Fleishman, and Jose M. Rojas, in representing plaintiffs across the United States in the multidistrict litigation against the nation’s two largest infant formula producers.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have been appointed to a co-lead counsel position in this important litigation as we seek justice against these corporate giants who flat-out ignored the harm their products were causing innocent newborns,” Debrosse Zimmermann said. “Abbott and Mead Johnson have long been aware of the scientific evidence that their formulas greatly increased the risk of NEC in premature infants, yet they failed to take the most basic actions that could have saved many young lives. It is these infants and their families for whom my co-lead counsel and I are committed to achieving justice.”
Debrosse Zimmermann also noted: “This is a vitally important case, and we must hold these two large companies responsible for what can only be described as gross negligence. Also important, however, is that Judge Pallmeyer is the first judge to ever appoint a black woman as plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel in an MDL. People of color are still underrepresented in the legal profession overall, and especially in first-tier litigation leadership positions. My hope and expectation is that this is only the beginning of a trend for attorneys of color.”
Debrosse Zimmermann co-chairs DiCello Levitt’s mass tort practice group and is a member of the firm’s public client, environmental, personal injury, civil rights, and trial practice groups. Widely known for her passionate and relentless client advocacy, she represents individuals and public entities that have been injured by wrongful conduct, whether from defective medical devices or drugs, environmental contamination, corporate misconduct, or civil rights abuse. She is nationally recognized as a powerhouse in mass torts, class actions, products liability, discrimination, and sexual assault claims, and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in client damages.
Earlier this year, Debrosse Zimmermann, was appointed to the Executive Committee in In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation, a multidistrict litigation brought by agricultural workers who developed Parkinson’s disease as a result of exposure to the herbicide, Paraquat. She also co-founded the advocacy group, “Shades of Mass,” along with noted civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, with the goal of remedying the lack of diversity in the leadership of litigation that disproportionately impacts diverse communities.
The case is In re: Abbott Laboratories, et al. Preterm Infant Nutrition Products Product Liability Litigation (MDL No. 3026), in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
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