Avon Ordered to Pay More Than $50 Million After Asbestos Lawsuit

A picture of a woman putting on talc-based makeup that may contain asbestos.

In December 2022, a California jury ordered Avon Products Inc. (Avon) to pay more than $50 million in damages to one victim of asbestos exposure. The plaintiff claimed the beauty giant’s talc-based cosmetic products contained asbestos, which led to her developing mesothelioma.

The California lawsuit awarded the plaintiff $40 million in actual damages for pain, suffering and some medical costs. The jury also ordered Avon to pay an additional $10.3 million in punitive damages.

Jury Finds Avon Knowingly Hid Asbestos Risks

The plaintiff in the case is a 76-year-old woman who developed mesothelioma after using Avon products for decades. She believed these products were contaminated with asbestos. During the court proceedings, the jury found that the company knew about the dangers of asbestos contamination in its products.

Despite this, the company chose not to warn consumers. After seeing the evidence, the jury stated Avon executives acted maliciously. Hiding the truth about the talc-based products’ risks led to punitive damages.

The lawsuit is another in a long line of suits against cosmetic companies for using asbestos-contaminated talc. Avon now joins Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Revlon and other cosmetics companies facing litigation and millions of dollars in damages from talc.

Unlike many other industries, the cosmetic industry is not strictly regulated. But now these companies are being held accountable for choosing profit over consumer safety. For example, J&J has faced scrutiny over efforts to offload asbestos responsibility. The questionable legal maneuver, known as the Texas Two-Step, has made headlines recently.

Avon Responds to the Verdict

Evidence shows Avon knew about asbestos risks in some of its products. Still, the company plans to appeal the verdict. This is not the first asbestos case where Avon has appealed the verdict.

For a mesothelioma patient, delaying compensation can cause financial hardships quickly. The cost of mesothelioma treatment can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Mesothelioma settlements and verdicts may help patients with these costs.

“We are disappointed by this verdict and will vigorously pursue all available avenues to appeal. Avon is confident that it has strong grounds for appeal and will continue to defend its position.”

-Avon Statement

This suit is one of many Avon has faced over the last few years. As of 2020, the company faced at least 130 lawsuits over talc. That same year, the company stated it planned to remove talc from its products. It is unclear if Avon has moved forward with that plan.

Asbestos and Avon Both Have a Long History in the Cosmetic Industry

Avon began in 1886 as the California Perfume Company and became known as Avon in 1939. Throughout its history, Avon has relied on door-to-door sales. As a result, the company’s tagline, “Ding-dong! Avon calling,” became embedded into pop culture. And continued expansion led to Avon products being sold worldwide.

Like Avon, many cosmetic companies have used talc in various products. The powdered mineral improves the feel of products and helps keep makeup in place. Talc and asbestos are often found in the same rock, leading to contamination risks.

The cosmetic industry is not regulated strongly, and no asbestos ban exists in the U.S. So, some cosmetic companies continue using contaminated talc, putting people at risk of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos exposure can lead to many diseases, including mesothelioma and other cancers. Symptoms of related diseases can take 10 to 50 years to present. Lawyers can help victims pinpoint which products led to their exposure.

Financial Help Is Available

Anyone who has used a talc-based cosmetic can speak with a doctor. Asbestos disease victims can also speak with an experienced asbestos law firm. Law firms with asbestos litigation experience may help identify potential sources of exposure.

These experienced law firms also may be able to help victims secure the funds they need to help cover medical costs and other expenses.