In an opinion today, Judge Furman largely denied a motion to dismiss the city of Perry, Iowa’s putative class action (first covered here) against the makers of so-called “flushable” wipes that allegedly are not flushable at all and allegedly damage the city’s sewer systems.
Judge Furman rejected the defendants’ argument that the city lacked standing to sue:
[T]he arguments for dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims against all Defendants are not without some force. Defendants contend that Perry’s allegations contain only generic complaints about flushable wipes, as opposed to evidence that the Defendants’ own products caused any damage; that Perry fails to distinguish among the Defendants; and that other matter could have caused the clogs of which the City complains. At the motion to dismiss stage, however, Perry’s allegations of concrete injury to its water management systems (and its allegations that flushable wipes were at least partially responsible for the clogs), combined with its allegations about the availability and sale of Defendants’ products, suffices to show an injury that is fairly traceable to Defendants’ conduct.
Furthermore, Defendants ignore the fact that Perry also seeks injunctive relief against future injury. Defendants do not (and, at this stage, cannot) dispute that their products are sold in and around Perry, so there is a significant risk that their products could end up in the City’s pipes even if they have not already. Nor does the fact that other waste may be partially responsible for the clogs necessarily immunize each Defendants from liability for the contribution to the harm that its own products may have made. Instead, the combination of flushable wipes found in Perry’s water system clogs and the widespread availability of Defendants’ flushable wipes products in and around the City makes the link between Defendants’ conduct and Plaintiff’s injury more than mere conjecture, crossing “the line from conceivable to plausible.”