Kimberly-Clark Accused of Falsely Claiming Gowns Protect Against Ebola

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

A Southern California law firm is alleging that Kimberly-Clark Corp., whose many products include Kleenex and medical supplies, knowingly marketed defective surgical gowns as protection against Ebola and other diseases.

In a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court, the firm Eagan Avenatti accuses Kimberly-Clark of misleading healthcare workers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the public regarding the safety of its surgical gowns.

The lawsuit alleges that during tests, the gowns failed at rates that “greatly exceeded” acceptable levels, allowing liquid, bacterial and viral pathogens to penetrate the products.

The Dallas-based company knew of such problems since at least 2013 but continued to sell the Microcool Breathable High Performance Surgical Gowns, the lawsuit claims.

“This conduct has placed physicians, healthcare workers and patients at risk of being unknowingly exposed to harmful bacteria, viruses and illness, including Ebola,” attorney Michael Avenatti said in a statement. “This is a very serious matter and deserves the immediate attention of regulators and the medical community.”

A spokesman for Kimberly-Clark said that the company does not comment on ongoing litigation but that the firm “stands behind the safety and efficacy of our products.”

Eagan Avenatti filed the suit Wednesday on behalf of Los Angeles surgeon Hrayr Shahinian and 500,000 other users and buyers of the gowns. The case seeks class-action status and asks for more than $500 million in damages.