Kimberly-Clark To Challenge Verdict on Medical Gowns

Dallas-based Kimberly-Clark Corp., a multinational personal care corporation, said it plans to challenge the recent verdict in a California class action lawsuit involving MicroCool surgical gowns sold by Halyard Health, its former healthcare business. The jury found Kimberly-Clark and Halyard liable for $454 million to compensate fraud damages for intentionally selling defective gowns.

Halyard is a medical technology company that provides healthcare solutions focused on preventing infection, eliminating pain, and expediting recovery. The company was spun off from Kimberly-Clark at the end of 2014.

According to a statement, trial evidence allegedly showed Kimberly-Clark and Halyard knowingly misled the medical community, regulators, and the general public about the impermeability of the surgical gowns against serious diseases. After learning of multiple test failures, the jury claims Kimberly-Clark and Halyard “failed to alert the FDA, healthcare professionals, and patients.”

Allegedly, internal emails and documents from Kimberly-Clark and Halyard showed its employees describing the gown-manufacturing process as “crap,” and admitted to using defective and substandard equipment to make MicroCool gowns in Honduras.

Court documents stated that instead of recalling gowns and disclosing the issues, Kimberly-Clark and Halyard “concealed what they knew, fired employees who knew too much, and continued promoting, marketing and selling the gowns by stating they were impermeable.”

Kimberly-Clark believes the jury’s verdict is “contrary to the evidence presented at trial and that its punitive damages award is baseless, excessive, and not consistent with California and federal laws.” The company said around 70 million MicroCool gowns have been sold without any injury complaints.

Kimberly-Clark also said it intends to challenge the verdict in post-judgment motions in district court. It may appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, depending on the rulings on the motions.

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