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Consolidation Ordered for Dial Complete Lawsuits

Aug 19, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

A panel of federal judges has ordered that consumer lawsuits involving marketing claims for Dial Corporation’s Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Handwash be consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire.  There are currently 10 such lawsuits pending in seven federal districts throughout the country.

Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Handwash is made with the controversial ingredient Triclosan.  Advertising and promotional materials for Dial Complete claim Triclosan enabled Dial Complete to outperform other soap products. For example, one promotional video for Dial Complete that targets janitorial product suppliers claims the product has the “highest level of germ killing action,” “is the “#1 antibacterial foaming hand soap”, and its “patented activated Triclosan formula” allows it to be “25x more effective than other antibacterial soaps.”

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Canadian Pediatric Society and the American Medical Association have all concluded in recent years that antimicrobial soaps and sanitizers do not reduce the risk of illness and infection in the home. 

Triclosan was originally developed as a surgical scrub, but is now widely used in consumer products such as soap and body washes, toothpaste, clothing, kitchenware, furniture and toys. Though companies that market Triclosan products, including Dial Corporation, claim they are safe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered it as a pesticide and has rated it high for human health risk and environmental risk.  In April 2010, the FDA issued a “Consumer Update” stating it did not have evidence that Triclosan-containing antibacterial soaps and body washes provide any extra health benefit over soap and water alone.

In consolidating the Dial Complete lawsuits, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Mutidistrict Litigation found that all of the pending actions share common factual questions arising from the marketing and sale of Dial Complete   Foaming Antibacterial Handwash.   Plaintiffs allege that Dial made unsubstantiated health claims in its promotion of Dial Compete to consumers and further allege that Triclosan, the active antibacterial ingredient in Dial Complete, may lead to bacterial resistance. 

According to a Transfer Order dated August 18, the Dial Complete litigation will be presided over by Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.

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