On December 13, 2021, AquaLaw and Robbins Geller achieved a victory in their flushable wipes lawsuit in the federal District Court for South Carolina when District Court Judge Gergel denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the case. Defendants put forth a number of arguments attacking all of the claims of Plaintiff Charleston Water System (CWS), represented jointly by AquaLaw and Robbins Geller, challenging Defendants’ assertions that their wipes products are truly flushable. Fortunately, the court resoundingly rejected defendants’ arguments and permitted CWS’s claims to proceed.
The court first found that CWS had constitutional standing to sue Defendants and had properly alleged that Defendants’ products at the very least contributed to CWS’s sewer blockages and damage to its sewer system. In particular, the court pointed out that CWS had provided the sworn statements of wastewater experts along with CWS’s amended complaint, and the experts asserted that Defendants’ wipes were a direct cause of damage to CWS’s sewer system.
The court went on to hold that CWS has adequately stated each of its claims and the lawsuit can proceed. This means CWS may proceed with its claims of strict product liability, nuisance, trespass, and negligence against all Defendants for their false claims that their flushable wipes are indeed flushable. Additionally, the court ruled that CWS could be entitled to permanent injunctive relief on all claims, as the alleged recurring and unreasonable damage to CWS’s sewer system would qualify as “irreparable harm” under the permanent injunction standard.
Finally, the court refused to apply South Carolina’s door-closing statute to the case, which would have narrowed the scope of the pending class action to just South Carolina residents. Instead, the case can proceed with the proposed nationwide class of POTWs that allege the same harms to their sewer systems as CWS has experienced. The judge found that there was a sufficient interest in consolidating all of the potential nationwide class claims (for injunctive relief only) into one lawsuit rather than requiring the same claims to be brought against the same Defendants in multiple lawsuits across the country.
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