Makers Must Face Claims ‘Flushable’Wipes Damaged Sewers

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By Julie A. Steinberg

Sept. 29 — Procter & Gamble Co., Kimberly-Clark Corp. and other makers of personal wipes sold as “flushable” must face claims by Minnesota and Wisconsin municipalities alleging they incurred costs to fix clogged sewer systems ( City of Wyoming v. Procter & Gamble Co. , D. Minn., No. 15-02101, 9/28/16 ).

The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota Sept. 28 denied most of the defendants’ dismissal motion.

The municipalities alleged the defendants represented to consumers and the public that the wipes were literally flushable, but they aren’t.

The wipes don’t break down like toilet paper and, as a result, wrap around sewer line filters and clog up the works, plaintiffs say. To clear the clogs, the systems need to be shut down and the wipes manually removed.

The municipalities sought damage, including a fund to compensate them for their ongoing repair costs.

Though the facts were novel, the Minnesota municipalities alleged sufficient facts to proceed with claims under the state’s warranty and consumer protection statutes, which extend to third parties alleging harm from violations, the court said.

The court also allowed the Wisconsin plaintiffs’ consumer protection law and public nuisance claims.

The court dismissed claims under the Declaratory Judgment Act as duplicative of the plaintiffs’ express warranty claim. It also threw out a claim of breach of implied warranty for a particular purpose.

Gustafson Gluek PLLC; Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky PC and Berman Devalerio represented the plaintiffs.

Covington & Burling LLP and Fredrikson & Byson PA represented Procter & Gamble.

Sidley Austin LLP and Nilan Johnson Lewis PA represented Kimberly-Clark.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie A. Steinberg in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at; Nicholas Datlowe at

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