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Mouthwash Co. Settles Suit in Deaths

November 12, 2001

FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ Relatives of six hospital patients who died after using a contaminated mouthwash have settled lawsuits with the companies that manufacture and import the product.

Terms of the settlement are confidential, said Stephen Plambeck, lawyer for the mouthwash’s maker, Hi-City Manufacturing.

Hi-City was sued in U.S. District Court in Fargo, N.D., along with Donovan Industries, a Tampa, Fla., company that imported Dawn Mist Mouth Rinse. The companies do not admit wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement, Plambeck said Monday.

``I think it was in the best interest of all parties to settle these cases,″ said Vincent Moccio, a lawyer representing five of the families.

The deaths occurred in 1999 at Fargo’s MeritCare Hospital, where infection control workers discovered the Dawn Mist Mouth Rinse used by some patients had been contaminated by Burkholderia cepacia bacteria. The waterborne germ can be harmful to people with weak immune systems or respiratory ailments.

The mouthwash was later recalled.

The lawsuits contended Hi-City was negligent in production and testing and that Donovan Industries’ guidelines did not comply with those of the federal Food and Drug Administration. The companies denied responsibility.

The companies also settled a lawsuit filed by a patient, from Lisbon, N.D., who survived an infection connected to the bacteria.

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