A Southern California law firm alleges that Kimberly-Clark Corp., the maker of Kleenex and medical supplies among its many products, knowingly marketed defective surgical gowns as protection against Ebola and other diseases.
In a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court, the firm Eagan Avenatti accused 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 claimed.
"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 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.