Surgery gown manufacturer hit with $454 million jury verdict

Posted on: April 25th, 2017 by Steve Larson

Kimberly-Clark Corp. and its spinoff Halyard Health Inc. were hit with a $454 million jury verdict, which included $350 million in punitive damages in a class action alleging that their surgery gowns were passed off as essentially impermeable, but were actually very porous. Although the punitive damages amount may be reduced, because it exceeds the compensatory damages by almost a hundredfold, it demonstrates the jury’s anger sparked by evidence taken from internal company documents showing the company was aware of issues regarding the quality of the gowns’ seams and testing failures.

The amount of the punitive damages was somewhat surprising given that no physical injuries resulting from a failure to protect the wearer have been reported to date. The plaintiff alleged that even though the gowns are marketed as “impermeable” and effective against pathogens like Ebola, they put health care workers at substantial risk.