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Clean Water Current

Final Fairness Hearing Set in Charleston Wipes Litigation

November 3, 2021

The final fairness hearing on NACWA member Charleston Water System’s (CWS) preliminarily approved class action settlement agreement with major U.S. wipes manufacturer Kimberly-Clark has been set for Jan. 24, 2022. 

NACWA’s utility members nationwide will be bound by the settlement if it is finalized, and we therefore encourage all members who have not yet done so to visit the dedicated settlement webpage, where you can access the proposed settlement as well as other important information and deadlines concerning the case.  Objections to the settlement must be filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina no later than Dec. 29, 2021.

If finalized, the settlement will require Kimberly-Clark to bring its Cottonelle Flushable Wipes products into compliance with the flushability standards developed by international municipal wastewater associations, including NACWA, and to change its labeling practices for certain other non-flushable wipes in exchange for marketing opportunities and indemnification against certain future suits from the clean water community.

Importantly, the settlement does not impact any claims from NACWA members against wipes manufacturers, including Kimberly-Clark, for damages or other monetary relief caused by wipes-related blockages.  However, if approved, the settlement will enjoin NACWA members from bringing certain claims for injunctive relief against Kimberly-Clark, such as those related to how its flushable wipes must perform and the labeling of non-flushable wipes. 

The settlement also names NACWA Legal Affiliate AquaLaw, who has represented CWS throughout the litigation, as well as the firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, as counsel for the class. 

The settlement is being proposed in the context of broader class-action litigation CWS filed against multiple manufacturers and distributers of so-called “flushable” wipes seeking to have the court enjoin them from labeling their products as “flushable” in light of the damage they cause to sewer systems.  That litigation remains ongoing. 

CWS CEO Kin Hill and attorneys from AquaLaw will be addressing the litigation as part of luncheon remarks at this year’s NACWA Clean Water Law & Enforcement Seminar.  Please contact NACWA Chief Legal Counsel Amanda Aspatore with any questions.
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