A mesothelioma patient in California was recently awarded a multi-million dollar settlement in a combined victory against two companies that played a part in her asbestos exposure. The defendants in the case, cosmetics company Avon Products, Inc. and forklift manufacturer Hyster-Yale Group, Inc., were ordered to pay a total of $52.1 million to the plaintiff.
The plaintiff in the case was a woman who had been diagnosed with mesothelioma after using talc-based products from Avon for much of her life. Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is used as an additive in various health and beauty aids, such as baby powder and powder-based cosmetics. It is mined from soil deposits, some of which also contain asbestos, resulting in contamination. Talc products are often tested for asbestos, but some contaminated products still make their way into the marketplace. There have been thousands of lawsuits related to talc products from patients diagnosed with mesothelioma or ovarian cancer, many against baby powder manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.
This is not the first suit that Avon has faced. The catalog-based company was sued in 200 lawsuits in 2021 alone over its talc-based products.
The jury in this case concluded that the company knew of the risks related to their products and failed to properly warn its customers. Avon allegedly continued to sell products it knew to be contaminated in order to limit the damage to its stock price. In 2020, the company was acquired by Natura Cosmetics SA which committed to removing talc from its products, but they continue to assert that their products are safe, expressing their disappointment with this most recent verdict. The jury awarded the plaintiff $40.8 million in damages along with $11.3 million in punitive damages, assigning Avon 90 percent of the blame for the plaintiff’s mesothelioma.
The other 10 percent of the blame was allocated to Hyster Company, a forklift manufacturer. The plaintiff’s husband worked at a Hyster plant where he regularly handled parts, including brakes, gaskets, and clutches, that were made with asbestos. At the end of the day, he came home with asbestos dust on his clothes, exposing his family members. Workplace exposure is a common source of asbestos exposure, but families of workers in industries with high risk are also in danger due to secondary exposure. Despite the risks of asbestos being widely known, Hyster continued to sell equipment containing asbestos until 2003. The lawsuit alleged that the company misrepresented when they became aware of the hazards, destroyed documents related to other lawsuits, and removed asbestos warnings before selling its products.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, speak with one of our Philadelphia mesothelioma attorneys at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Delaware County, Chester County, and Philadelphia County. Call us at 215-569-4000 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation.