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February 29, 2024

Class action lawsuit alleges Kimberly-Clark released PFAS into drinking water from New Milford facility

Contributed Kimberly-Clark manufacturers consumer products such as Cottonelle toilet paper.

Stamford law firm Silver Golub & Teitell has filed a class action suit against a manufacturer seeking more than $5 million in damages for allegedly releasing toxic PFAS chemicals into the drinking water in New Milford.

The suit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, on behalf of three plaintiffs who suffered injuries from ingesting water contaminated with PFAS, and “on behalf of others similarly situated.”

The defendant, Texas-based Kimberly-Clark Corp., is a consumer products company that manufactures diapers, tissues, toilet paper and feminine care products. The company has a plant in New Milford that employs about 350 people.

PFAS, or perfluorinated alkylated substances, also known as “forever chemicals,” are used in the manufacturing of many consumer products and are resistant to biodegradation. They are known carcinogens and can cause numerous health problems.

The named plaintiffs are Bethany DePaul, Arlene Quaranta and Merdedith Quaranta, all of New Milford, who live less than 3 miles from Kimberly-Clark’s facility at 58 Pickett District Road.

According to the suit, Kimberly-Clark used PFAS in its manufacturing processes at the facility, where it produces paper for tissues.

“Kimberly-Clark’s manufacturing practices caused stack emissions containing PFAS chemicals to go airborne, travel and ultimately deposit PFAS chemicals on the real property and in the drinking water wells of plaintiffs,” the suit states.

Tests of the soil and drinking water on the plaintiffs’ properties showed high levels of PFAS in December 2023, according to the suit.

“Kimberly-Clark knew, or reasonably should have known, that PFAS chemicals are toxic, harmful to human health, resist natural degradation, render air, soil and drinking water unsafe and/or non-potable, and are capable of being removed from air and water supplies if proper steps are taken,” the suit states.

Also, Kimberly-Clark owns a 165-acre landfill on Kent Road in New Milford, where it dumped “short fiber paper sludge,” a byproduct of the paper manufacturing process, the suit says, citing publicly filed records with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The suit says it is “likely” that paper sludge has leached into the surrounding area.

Kimberly-Clark says it has phased out the use of PFAS chemicals.

“We believe the allegations raised in this lawsuit are unfounded and plan to vigorously defend against them," a spokesman for the company said Thursday. "We do not use PFAS in any of our U.S. consumer products.”

The suit claims negligence, recklessness, violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and strict liability for ultrahazardous or abnormally dangerous activity, among other things.

In January, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced that he was filing PFAS lawsuits against 3M, DuPont and more than two dozen other companies that produce firefighting foam.

Silver Golub & Teitell has also filed class action lawsuits against water companies Aquarion and Connecticut Water, accusing them of knowingly selling unsafe drinking water containing PFAS to customers.

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