Cottonelle Maker Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Bacteria Found on Wipes

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Cottonelle Maker Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Bacteria Found on Wipes
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Kimberly-Clark Corporation is facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that they should have been aware of and addressed the bacteria contaminating their Cottenelle Flushable Wipes much sooner than they did. The official complaint alleges that it wasn’t until a multitude of customers complained of significant injury by the wipes that the Corporation took action, and that with proper attention to sanitization and quality the bacteria, could have been detected much sooner and prevented many injuries.

In October of 2020, Kimberly-Clark announced a nationwide recall for the affected Cottonelle Wipes.

The primary allegation in this lawsuit seems to be that the recall did not happen soon enough, and could reasonably have happened much sooner had the company in question paid proper attention to the products they were sending out. According to the official complaint, they did not acknowledge the harmful bacteria on their products until a multitude of customers complained of skin irritations, infections, and other health complications linked to the wipes. Despite visible and odorous signs of contamination such as brown spots and a mildew smell on some of the wipes, the corporation allegedly did not begin to investigate the cause of their customers’ injuries until many more had suffered from using the product.

The bacteria Pluralibacter gergoviae or P. gergoviae has been known to occur in cosmetics and similar products.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, P. gergoviae is an antibiotic-resistant pathogen linked to a myriad of infections, including tissue and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Severe skin irritation, diarrhea, and UTIs were some of the most common complaints attributed to customers harmed by the P. gergoviae in the Cottonelle wipes. Due to the antibiotic-resistant nature of the bacteria, some class members have pointed out that these injuries were particularly hard to treat, and therefore suffered for months at a time from the effects of the contaminated product.

The Cottonelle recall itself is also under criticism in the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that even when Kimberly-Clark did finally issue a recall of the products—allegedly a long time after they should reasonably have known about the danger to their customers—the language used in the recall was designed to intentionally minimize the impression of risk to customers. Under particular scrutiny is a section of the original recall notice implying that individuals with weakened immune systems are at “particular risk of infection”, while everyone else is more than likely safe. Additionally, class members allege that when they attempted to use the “Contact Us” button on the defendant’s website, they received error messages and were unable to contact someone about their experience.

This lawsuit has been brought by the plaintiff on behalf of a New York class affected by the wipes.

Despite the recall being issued nationwide, this lawsuit applies specifically to the New York class of customers who purchased Cottonelle Flushable Wipes between February and September of 2020. The class is seeking relief in the form of an injunctive relief as well as any monetary damages the Court deems appropriate via a jury trial.

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