Woman Awarded $52.1 Million in Avon Asbestos-Contaminated Talc Lawsuit
An Arizona woman diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer was awarded a combined verdict of $52.1 million by a California jury last month. The amount included $40.8 million in compensatory damages with an additional $11.3 million in punitive damages. The verdict included combined damages against the cosmetics manufacturer Avon and Hyster, a company that produces forklifts.
The woman and her husband, former residents of Los Angeles, filed suit in a California court against Avon (with corporate headquarters in New York) claiming their products, which contained talc and asbestos, were a cause of her mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that develops in the linings of certain tissues, most often the lungs or abdomen. Exposure to asbestos is the only definitive cause of mesothelioma
The woman began using Avon products, namely body and face powder talc, as a child and continued their use throughout most of her life. The woman’s attorneys argued that she had no reason to believe these products might cause cancer. Evidence was presented that Avon knowingly chose to sell products which contained high levels of asbestos and was fully aware of the cancer risk this asbestos posed.
The couple also included Hyster in their lawsuit. The woman’s husband was employed by the forklift manufacturer and handled asbestos products on the job. The woman was further exposed to asbestos when washing her husband’s work clothes. The couple’s attorneys argued Hyster not only lied about when it became aware of the dangers of asbestos in its workplace, but also destroyed records and removed asbestos warning labels from products.
Following a three-month trial, the jury placed 90% of the blame for the plaintiff’s cancer on Avon, with the remaining 10% falling on Hyster.
Asbestos-contaminated makeup has become commonplace in recent years. Several well-known brands, including Avon and Claire’s, have taken a hit for selling beauty products with asbestos and placing consumers at risk for cancers, such as mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Talc is a mineral naturally found near asbestos. Therefore, when talc is mined for use in cosmetic products, asbestos fibers may be disturbed in the process and contaminate the talc. Consumers who fear asbestos exposure from makeup that contains talc should seek products that use talc-free alternatives.
Secondhand Asbestos Exposure
Secondhand exposure to asbestos occurs when an individual who works with or around asbestos at their place of employment brings asbestos fibers home on their person, clothing or other personal effects. These transferred fibers can then be inhaled by family members.
Secondary exposure is considered to be the primary cause of mesothelioma in women, particularly from laundering clothing containing asbestos fibers.
Cision PR Newswire. California Jury Awards Woman $52.1 Million in Mesothelioma Case Against Avon. December 2022.
Feeley J. Avon Hit With $40 Million Verdict in California Talc Lawsuit. BNN Bloomberg. December 2022
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