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B.C. Supreme Court confirms class-action lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark over flushable wipes

Manufacturer said its recalled products failed to meet its "high-quality standards" and could contain the bacterium Pluralibacter gergoviae.
Winter sun shone on the Vancouver courthouse entrance earlier this week

The Supreme Court of British Columbia has confirmed its certification of a class action lawsuit related to Kimberly-Clark's 2020 recall of its Cottonelle Flushable Wipes and Cottonelle Gentle Plus Flushable Wipes sold throughout Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Kimberly-Clark said when recalling the products that some of the recalled products did not meet the company's "high-quality standards" and "could show the presence" of the bacterium Pluralibacter gergoviae, which can cause infections, particularly to people with weakened immune systems. The class action was originally filed in October 2020.

Its reasons for judgment were issued orally on Jan. 19, and are now on law firm Slater Vecchio LLP's website

"This judgment clarifies that there is indeed a certified class-action lawsuit for persons residing anywhere in Canada," said Saro Turner, a partner at Slater Vecchio.

He said that his firm's priority is justice for those who say they have been harmed by allegedly defective Cottonelle-branded products.

Another Slater Vecchio lawyer, Justin Giovannetti, told BIV last summer in an interview that the class that the court certified were those people who purchased Kimberly-Clark's wipes and were injured by those wipes. The class that was not certified was the one that included people who simply purchased the wipes but were not injured, he added.

Representative plaintiff Linda Bowman filed her lawsuit after Kimberly-Clark recalled its flushable skin care wipes manufactured between Feb. 7, 2020, and Sept. 14, 2020, after some of these wipes were found to have been contaminated with Pluralibacter gergoviae, a bacteria that can cause serious infections, according to Giovannetti, who represented Bowman.

Individuals with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable to being infected by Pluralibacter gergoviae, he added.

Bowman testified that she began purchasing Kimberly-Clark’s flushable wipes in 2020 and provided a receipt for a large package purchased from Costco on July 17, 2020, according to Justice Sharon Matthews in her Aug. 28 judgment.

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