Supreme Court declines to hear dispute over flushable wipes

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a lower court ruling that allows a customer to sue the manufacture of flushable wipes over false advertising.

The case stems from a class-action lawsuit brought by Jennifer Davidson after she purchased Scott Naturals Flushable Moist Wipes in 2013 and noticed they “felt sturdy and thick” and “did not break up in the toilet like toilet paper,” according to court documents.

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Though the wipes did not clog Davidson’s home plumbing, she argued the manufacturer’s use of the term “flushable” in its marketing was deceptive and claimed the company had violated California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, its False Advertising Law and the Unfair Competition Law.

A district court granted a motion from the manufacturer -- Kimberly-Clark Corp. -- to dismiss the case, ruling that Davidson lacked standing to sue for relief because she clearly will not purchase the product again, so there’s no future harm or risk.

The 9th Circuit reversed that ruling, saying a consumer may suffer an "actual and imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical" threat of future harm because "knowledge that the advertisement or label was false in the past does not equate to knowledge that it will remain false in the future.”

The manufacturer appealed to the Supreme Court, but the justices declined to take the case. They did not provide any explanation for their decision, as is customary.

At least four of the nine justices need to agree to hear an appeal in order for it to be taken up.

Kimberly-Clark manufactures an array of consumer products which it sells under some of the most recognized names in America, including Huggies diapers, Cottonelle toilet paper, Scott paper towels and Kleenex tissues.