Ten years after the Remedia
baby formula affair came to light, the Petah Tikva District Court determined the punishments of the chapter’s main actors: Frederick Black, quality and technology food manager of the company was convicted of negligent manslaughter.
CEO Gideon Landsberger was
acquitted on most counts, but was convicted of not upholding standards. Moshe Miller, one of the company’s former owners, won a complete acquittal.
“The guilt lies with Humana (the German company which makes the formula), but it does not allow us to take guilt away from the defendants,” ruled Judge Lia Lev On.
The court convicted Black of negligent manslaughter, injury through negligence, and acts contributing to the spreading of a disease, because he knew the formula had a severe vitamin B1 – Thiamine – deficiency, yet he took no action. He was also convicted of deceiving consumers, but won against obstruction of justice. Regarding the CEO, the judge ruled, “Landsberger trusted Humana
and Black, and was not aware of the chain of failures.”
Gideon Landsberger (R) and Moshe Miller (L) (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
Judge Lia Lev On (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
The story broke in 2003, and brought civil and criminal charges against the company and its management. From July to November 2003, Remedia sold formula that caused irreversible nervous system damage to babies, paralysis, and damage to heart function. Three children died, and another girl died seven years later as a result of her injuries. Dozens of injured children
still suffer as a result of the negligence.
In 2008, an indictment was filed against senior Remedia and Health Ministry officials. It included charges of negligent manslaughter, and injury through negligence, as well as other charges such as deceiving consumers and obstructing justice.
Black, a former manager of research and development,
and food technology in the company, was hired for the position even though he lacked experience in the field, and had never received professional training related to baby food or infant needs.
CEO Landsberger was also hired though lacking any professional background in the field of infant formula production
and development. According to the indictment, he was responsible for the quality of the products and consumer safety.
The man who hired both defendants, Moshe Miller,
served as general-manager, is an owner of shares in Heinz Israel, and the director of its daughter companies, including Remedia Marketing and Remedia Products. Within the framework of his position, he oversaw management of these companies. All three denied the allegations.
Attorneys Navit Negev and Gal Harari-Goldman, representing Miller, had emphasized in the past, “At the time of the tragedy,
he was not involved in active management and did not have any connection to the development of these events.”
They said that in the months before the tragedy, Miller had announced his retirement,
took a long leave of absence and was no longer involved in any substantial position within the company.
The verdict of the three brings an end to legal proceedings in the matter, after five employees of the Health Ministry involved
in the decision to allow the formula into Israel, were tried and according to most opinions, got off easy: In June 2011, after plea bargaining, they admitted to committing an act that might spread illness. Their punishment included 400-500 hours of community service.
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