Can I Sue if My Baby is Born with Listeriosis?

Pritzker Hageman Attorney Eric Hageman-724
Attorney Eric Hageman leads our food poisoning legal team

Yes, you can sue if your baby is born with listeriosis and the illness can be linked to a food product tainted with Listeria monocytogenes eaten by the mother while pregnant. Food companies and retailers can be sued for selling contaminated food, and as a parent, you have the right to file a lawsuit on behalf of your baby.

Attorneys at Pritzker Hageman recently won several million dollars on behalf of a baby who was born prematurely and diagnosed with this infection. The newborn was hospitalized for four weeks. His mother had unknowingly eaten a contaminated product when she was pregnant.

“We represented a client who suffered permanent disability because a food company sold a contaminated product,” said attorney Eric Hageman, who won $4.5 million on behalf of this client.

You can contact Eric for a free consultation at 1-888-377-8900 or use the form below and find out if you can sue on behalf of your child for compensation and justice.

Contact Our Law Firm for Help if Your Baby was Born with Listeriosis

We are not paid unless you win. Submitting this form does not create an attorney-client relationship.

How Does a Baby Contract Listeriosis from the Pregnant Mother?

Listeria CDC

A baby can be born with listeriosis when, during pregnancy, the mother eats food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Recent medical research has found that cells of L. monocytogenes can pass through the placenta or via the vaginal tract. In most cases, the infection is transmitted through the placenta.

Listeriosis occurs when food containing microscopic Listeria monocytogenes organisms is swallowed and reproduces in the human gut. In some people, particularly those with weakened immune systems (including pregnant women, fetuses and small children), the microorganism enters the host’s blood stream and then causes damage to other parts of the body. With pregnant women, there are two routes of transmission to the fetus: hematogenous (blood transmission from mother to placenta to fetus) and ascending infection (microorganisms in stool that enter the vagina and then pass through the cervix and on to the placenta and amniotic fluid where it is ingested by the fetus).

While the mother may be running a fever and feel quite ill, this deadly infection can be transmitted even if the mother is not showing signs of illness.

At birth, the newborn may not have any symptoms, but a few hours or days later, and the infant can become severely ill and die.

Baby Incubator

When listeriosis is contracted in vitro, there is often a premature birth, with the newborn having an unusually low birth rate. In addition, the little one is often cyanotic (blue) and flaccid (limp) at birth and may present at birth with any of the following:

  • Light birth weight
  • Enlarged liver – hepatomegaly
  • Enlarged spleen – splenomegaly
  • Rash – petechia
  • Respiratory difficulties due to aspiration pneumonia, apparently from infected amniotic cavity
  • Listeriosis meningitis—may develop several days after birth
  • Septicemia (sepsis)—a blood infection (blood poisoning) that is often fatal
  • Cortical visual impairment: lawsuit argues that damage to the brain caused eye damage or permanent blindness.

When listeriosis is transmitted via the mother’s vaginal tract, the newborn usually appears to be fine and even has good Apgar scores, but within a few hours or days, the baby becomes gravely ill.

During pregnancy, antibiotics are given to treat the mother. In most cases of in vitro infection, the antibiotics also prevent infection of the fetus or newborn. Antibiotics are also given to babies who are born with listeriosis; however, these little ones can get severe complications that are difficult to treat. In addition, we know of cases where diagnosis of the newborn was delayed to the detriment of the child.

Son Born Prematurely Suffers Blindness and Brain Damage from Listeriosis

Baby Injured Lawsuit

One of our recent cases involved a young woman in the 32nd week of her first pregnancy. After experiencing abdominal pain and nausea, she presented to the hospital and not long thereafter delivered a premature, underweight boy with severe breathing problems.  He required immediate intubation and admission to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

As part of the investigation to determine the cause of the child’s severe problems, tissue from the placenta and umbilical cord was examined and revealed signs of severe infection (chorioamnionitis and funisitis).  Blood from the infant was positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Other tests indicated the presence of FIRS (Fetal Inflammatory Response Syndrome), an immune response triggered by pathogenic organisms that is known to cause brain damage and respiratory distress in neonates.

Subsequent brain MRI scans showed loss of white matter (brain cells) caused by lack of oxygen as well as signs of intraventricular hemorrhage. These findings were on both sides of the child’s brain, primarily involving areas along the visual pathways. These pathways are nerve fibers that transmit visual information from the eyes to the portion of the brain that processes the signals and directs the body’s response to the visual input. Approximately five months after birth, the baby was diagnosed with severe vision impairment and is now functionally blind. At slightly over three years of age, the child is developmentally delayed and enrolled in a special school for blind children.

Fruit Contaminated with Listeria Bacteria Caused Baby to Be Born Prematurely, According to Pritzker Hageman Food Safety Attorneys

Attorneys at Pritzker Hageman obtained evidence linking the baby’s illness to an outbreak of listeriosis, illnesses from food contaminated with Listeria bacteria.

“During the mother’s third trimester, she consumed a piece of fruit. Although she could not see, smell or taste it, the fruit was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Epidemiologic and microscopic investigation revealed her case was part of a multi-state Listeria outbreak.”

Attorney Eric Hageman

Pritzker Hageman, which handles and wins Listeria cases throughout the United States, was hired to represent the mother and child. During litigation on their behalf, the firm uncovered evidence of significant fault on the part of the fruit growers and processors including an almost total lack of awareness of the dangers of Listeria monocytogenes and a complete failure to prevent contamination of the storage and processing facility at which the fruit was adulterated.

After protracted litigation, the child received a multi-million dollar settlement. The money guarantees financial support and top-rate care for the child for the remainder of his life.