A manufacturer of surgical gowns faces a lawsuit that claims the company knew its product failed impermeability tests for blood and microbes. The lawsuit seeks class action status and more than $500 million in damages.
Law firm Eagan Avenatti filed the lawsuit in a Los Angeles court against Kimberly-Clark Corp.
The suit alleges the company knew for at least a year that its Microcool Beathable High Performance Surgical Gown failed the tests, but it continued to claim the product provided the highest level of protection against diseases, including Ebola.
The lawsuit alleges:
- false advertising
- negligent misrepresentation, and
- unfair business practices.
The $500 million in damages represents the minimum amount of revenue that Kimberly-Clark gained from sales of the gowns, according to the law firm.
Kimberly-Clark hasn’t commented on the lawsuit, stating the company doesn’t speak publicly about pending litigation.
Attorney Michael Avenatti told Reuters that Kimberly-Clark has sold millions of the gowns since 2011. Avenatti says the company should immediately recall the protective gear.
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Hrayr Shahinian, a Los Angeles surgeon specializing in skull and brain tumor operations who says he had used the gowns and therefore has been potentially exposed to harm.
“We are aware of individuals that have contracted various diseases while wearing the gown,” Avenatti told the Associated Press.
The lawyer says Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the facility where two nurses contracted Ebola, once stocked the gowns, but he didn’t know whether the nurses who became infected had been wearing them.
Kimberly-Clark has more than half the worldwide market for surgical gowns.
Companies that manufacture the gowns and other protective suits have increased production of them following the Ebola outbreak in some African countries.
DuPont Co. says it’s tripling its production of protective suits.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection recommends healthcare workers treating Ebola patients wear a coverall or “fluid resistant or impermeable gown that extends to at least mid-calf.”