Two Cottonelle flushable wipes users have filed a class action lawsuit after Kimberly-Clark recalled some of the product due to possible bacterial contamination.
Plaintiffs Melissa Armstrong and Roland Nadeau filed their class action lawsuit in federal court Friday, just a week after Kimberly-Clark announced the flushable wipes recall.
They say they are seeking “recovery for the personal and economic harms caused by the recall of millions of contaminated, dangerous, and now-worthless flushable wipes … .”
Kimberly-Clark issued the flushable wipes recall over concerns that some packages could be contaminated with the bacteria Pluralibacter gergoviae.
The recalled wipes were sold in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean between Feb. 7, 2020, and Sept. 14, 2020.
Kimberly-Clark says it so far has only received a “low rate of non-serious complaints, such as irritation and minor infection” related to the affected flushable wipes.
Products such as the recalled flushable wipes became more popular early in the coronavirus pandemic as consumers stockpiled toilet paper and similar goods, leading to a supply shortage on store shelves.
In fact, the class action lawsuit calls the company one of the coronavirus pandemic’s “clear winners” because it has “enjoyed a dramatic, pandemic-driven boost in demand” for its sanitary products.
According to the plaintiffs, Kimberly-Clark lacked appropriate safeguards to detect or remedy the contamination of its Cottonelle Flushable Wipes and Cottonelle GentlePlus Flushable Wipes, and distributed them via major retailers to the plaintiffs and other putative Class Members.
“Unfathomably, Kimberly-Clark continued its mass, nationwide distribution of contaminated Wipes for another seven months — all the while failing to detect the bacterial contamination, warn the public, or otherwise taking any steps whatsoever to remediate the serious health risks to which it had exposed Plaintiffs, similarly situated consumers, and the public at large,” even though the company had warnings that something was wrong, the class action lawsuit alleges.
The plaintiffs say throughout the time the flushable wipes were being distributed and sold, consumers documented “irregularities” in the products, including dark brown spots on some wipes and “mildew-like odors.”
Consumers allegedly also reported experiencing “rashes, infections, and other serious health complications.”
The plaintiffs say these irregularities should have raised concerns and prompted an investigation by the company. However, it was allegedly only after an “overwhelming” number of consumer complaints about skin irritation, infections and other complications that Kimberly-Clark began product testing and investigation.
“The Recall has affected thousands of consumers who purchased the Wipes at retail locations, causing damages that include loss of value, anxiety, fright, unjust enrichment, fraud, violation of consumer protection and deceptive practices statutes…,” the class action lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs seek to certify two Classes: a nationwide Class of anyone who purchased the recalled flushable wipes between Feb. 7, 2020, and Sept. 14, 2020; and a California subclass for anyone who purchased the recalled wipes in California during the same period.
The plaintiffs are asking the Court to find Kimberly-Clark’s alleged conduct unlawful and stop the company from further unlawful conduct, and to award damages, pre- and post-judgment interest and reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses.
They also demand a jury trial.
Do you use Cottonelle flushable wipes? Have you stopped using them since the recall? Tell us about it in the comments below.
The plaintiffs are represented by Joshua L. Hedrick and Mark A. Fritsche of Hedrick Kring PLLC; and Patrick J. Stueve, J. Austin Moore, Abby McClellan, Crystal Cook Leftridge and Michael R. Owens of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP.
The Cottonelle Flushable Wipes Class Action Lawsuit is Melissa Armstrong, et al. v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., Case No. 3:20-3150, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division.
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