Avon Receives a $52.1 million Settlement for Talc Containing Asbestos

An Arizona woman who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer received $52.1 million from a jury in California. The multimillion-dollar verdict includes damages against a forklift manufacturer and the cosmetics giant Avon.

Rita-Ann Chapman's lawyers said that she had used asbestos-contaminated Avon talc products for a lot of her life. Chapman is 76.

She attributed additional asbestos exposure to Hyster Company, which manufactured forklifts. While employed at Hyster, her husband Gary handled asbestos products.

This month, Chapman won her case in California Superior Court.

The cancer mesothelioma is uncommon. The primary cause of the incurable condition is asbestos fiber ingestion or inhalation.

Although asbestos litigation centered primarily on occupational exposure in the past, the discovery of asbestos-contaminated talc products has led to significant expansion of the field today. A look at asbestos litigation's future and past is included in Chapman's combined award.

Avon's door-to-door saleswomen, known as "Avon Ladies," sold a variety of cosmetics, including body and face powders. Avon kept asbestos contamination a secret.

Jurors came to the conclusion that Avon management was aware of the talc contamination but deliberately withheld information from customers about the serious health risks. There were $40.8 million in actual damages, in addition to $11.3 million in punitive damages. The jury attributed 90% of Chapman's cancer to Avon.

In 2021, Avon was the subject of nearly 200 talc lawsuits, according to court records. The company said in 2020 that it would no longer use talc in its products, despite the fact that it has maintained that its products are safe.

Avon stated that it would file an appeal against the most recent verdict.

The company stated in a statement, "We are disappointed by this verdict and will vigorously pursue all available avenues to appeal." Avon is sure that it has good reasons to appeal and will keep defending its position.

Secondhand Asbestos Exposure at Hyster Chapman's handling of her husband's work clothes at a Hyster forklift manufacturing plant led to the Hyster Company's involvement in the lawsuit. 

He used asbestos-made brakes, gaskets, and clutches in his work. Products are strengthened by the naturally occurring mineral, but it is also carcinogenic.

The minuscule asbestos fibers on Chapman's husband's clothes, which she routinely washed, would frequently be brought home.

Due to the increasing number of cases involving talc, the verdict against Avon was not unexpected. Johnson & Johnson leads talc lawsuits. Contaminated talc is the subject of legal action against Chanel, Revlon, L'Oréal, and Justice.

With its well-known baby powder, Johnson & Johnson is the industry giant. There are over 30,000 lawsuits against it. Ovarian cancer is the most common cause. Only a small percentage are legal claims for mesothelioma.

Settlements and verdicts have already resulted in the company spending more than $3 billion. In order to limit its talc liabilities in the future, Johnson & Johnson established a new subsidiary in 2021 and immediately filed for bankruptcy protection.

The contentious strategy was approved by a federal judge in New Jersey, but it is currently before a federal appeals court.

Due to the avalanche of lawsuits, J&J, a market leader, stopped selling its talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder in the United States and Canada in 2020.

Minerals like talc and asbestos are found in nature. Asbestos veins frequently traverse talc deposits, posing a risk of contamination during the mining process.

Despite the fact that contamination testing has been carried out for a number of years, the outcomes of various testing techniques have varied.

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