Pampers lawsuit: Should you join it?

As a class action, the Pampers lawsuit asks Procter & Gamble to reimburse all parents for medical expenses associated with the new diapers.

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    A package of Pampers Cruisers is seen in Alexandria, Va., May 6, which uses a new Procter and Gamble technology called Dry Max. A new Pampers lawsuit charges that the Dry Max diapers are harmful to babies and is asking the company to reimburse parents for medical expenses associated with the use of Dry Max diapers. Procter and Gamble asserts the diapers are safe.
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The filing of a Pampers lawsuit is escalating the grass-roots battle between angry parents and diapermaker Procter & Gamble (P&G).

The Pampers lawsuit – actually two of them have been filed so far – represent eight families who allege that P&G knew, or should have known, that its Dry Max technology could harm babies by causing severe rashes, chemical burns, and other ailments.

Since announcing its suits Wednesday, law firm Keller Rohrback L.L.P. in Seattle has been flooded with calls. By Thursday afternoon, it had heard from roughtly 150 consumers or more.

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"We've never seen an outcry like this," says Gretchen Cappio, a partner in the firm. "These parents are trying to express that P&G should stop trying to deny the problem or, even worse, blaming the parent or caregiver."

P&G has aggressively defended its Dry Max technology, saying it has been extensively tested before and after its introduction in March. Dry Max allows diapers to be thinner, which is better for the environment because the diapers take up less space in landfills, the company says. And it doesn't compromise on absorbency, P&G says, which is important in avoiding diaper rash.

"While we have great empathy for any parent dealing with diaper rash – a common and sometimes severe condition – the claims made in this lawsuit are completely false," the company said in a statement Thursday. "One out of every four babies at any given time will be experiencing diaper rash. To attribute these conditions to the DryMax disposable diaper is incorrect and misguided."

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is investigating the product.

Unless P&G backs down or settles, the standoff could last awhile. The CPSC says its still early in its review of the diapers. And it will be a few months before a judge rules whether the lawsuits qualify as class actions, according to Keller Rohrback.

Parents who believe their children have suffered as a result of the diapers don't have to join the suits to reap the benefits. The suits ask that the company stop making versions of Pampers that harm children, reimburse all parents for any medical expenses incurred because of the rashes, and reimburse all parents for the money they've spent on the diapers.

Parents who want more information can contact the law firm by phone (800-776-6044) or e-mail (consumer@kellerrohrback.com). Some parents are asking to be named plaintiffs in the suits.

"They are so outraged that they want to lend their name to this lawsuit," says Ms. Cappio. "It gives them a legal voice."

P&G also has a story to tell, with company officials and outside experts, including a Harvard public health adjunct professor, defending the Dry Max technology and explaining problems with rash. Click here for that.

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