There is an interesting products liability lawsuit by a New York dentist, Dr. Joseph Kurtz, 35, against manufacturers of flushable wipes. The wipes have been blamed for massive “fatberg” formations in municipal sewer systems and Dr. Kurtz says that he is out $600 in plumbing bills at this New York and New Jersey homes due to the alleged misrepresentation. He is now seeking unspecified damages in the suit in Brooklyn against Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp.
Kurtz says that the Flushable wipes are not flushable but clogable. He is seeking class action status for all those who have faced the Fatberg.
What makes the case interesting is the position of officials with the Plainfield Area Regional Sewerage Authority in New Jersey and New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection. The officials blame the flushable wipes on a breakdown of their equipment. They are asking residents to put the wipes in the trash rather than the toilet — a tall order given the use of the wipes by parents.
It could come down to the meaning of “flushable.” The companies could claim that the sheets are fully flushable but that clogs can form with the addition of other sources. That could lead to a comparison of toilet paper to wipes in contributing to clogs.
The term “Fatberg” after officials last summer had to blast a 15-ton, bus-sized mass of wipes and congealed grease — dubbed “fatberg” in the city’s sewer system last summer. Officials blame the problem on the “spunlace” used in wipes. New York reportedly spends $18 million a year collecting and discarding such debris at its plants.
I could not find an video of a Dr. Kurtz but I did find video of a Col. Kurtz presumably describing the “Fatberg” phenomenon: