Yesterday, Katz, Marshall & Banks announced that the firm filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against infant formula maker Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. on behalf of Linda O’Risky. In the lawsuit, Ms. O'Risky, who worked as the company's global product compliance director, alleges that over the course of seven months in 2015, Mead Johnson failed to fully investigate, report to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and remove units of ready-to-use infant formula with defective seals, posing health risks to infants. Coverage from a number of media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business and the Financial Times, pushed the company to respond to Ms. O'Risky's claims.
In her complaint, Ms. O'Risky alleged that while Mead Johnson did inquire about some units with defective seals, which could allow microorganisms and other contaminants into the packages after sterilization, the company's investigators falsely claimed that a defective seal did not pose a food safety or FDA compliance issue as they believed spoilage from defective seals would be obvious. After repeatedly voicing her concerns, Ms. O'Risky was marginalized, excluded from meetings, denied a promotion opportunity and ultimately terminated in November 2015. In doing so, the complaint alleges that Mead Johnson violated the whistleblower protections of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), and the Dodd-Frank Act. Read the full complaint here.