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Parents of dead toddler settle tainted wipes lawsuit

Michael Stravato

Sandra and Shanoop Kothari of Houston, Texas, are shown last year holding a photo of their children Hanna and Harrison. Harry died on Dec. 1, 2010 at the age of 2.

The parents of a toddler who died after contracting a rare bacterial infection blamed on contaminated medical wipes have settled their lawsuit against the Wisconsin firms that made them.

Sandra Kothari, 38, of Houston, declined to release details of the financial arrangement reached with the Triad Group and H&P Industries Inc. of Hartland, Wis.

But the mother of 2-year-old Harrison Kothari said she and her husband “reluctantly” sought to settle the case instead of bringing it to trial on the advice of lawyers.

Court records filed Friday confirmed the action.

“Personally, for me, it’s not because I didn’t want to do it,” she said, adding: “It was never about the money.”

The Kotharis sued H&P and the Triad Group in February 2011 after a massive recall of medical prep wipes potentially contaminated with a rare bacterium, Bacillus cereus. They said the wipes led to an infection with the same germ that killed their son.

An msnbc.com investigation showed that federal Food and Drug Administration officials had detected problems with sterilization and contamination for years at the sister firms in Wisconsin, yet had taken no action to stop them.

Additional recalls of other products because of threats of bacterial contamination and the seizure of more than $6 million in medical products and supplies eventually shuttered the Wisconsin firms, which have yet to reopen.

Representatives from H&P and the Triad Group did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the settlement. Company officials have consistently said that there was no conclusive proof that their medical wipes and swabs caused any illness, injury or death.

Sandra Kothari said the expense and stress of a trial would not have accomplished her goal, which was to ensure the company didn’t continue to distribute tainted wipes and to pressure the government for better oversight.

“I wanted [H&P] to be penalized, and I guess, in a way, they have been,” she said.

At least 10 lawsuits nationwide have alleged that tainted H&P and Triad products have caused serious infections, illnesses or deaths. It wasn’t immediately clear if other suits would be dismissed as well.

A second firm, Pacific Disposables Inc. of Orangeburg, N.J., recalled 300 million individual prep pads last fall because of potential contamination with the same kind of bacteria cited in Harry Kothari's death.


Tracking tainted wipes: an msnbc.com special investigation