Revlon Faces Asbestos Lawsuit Over Talc Products

Revlon Asbestos Lawsuit

Revlon Inc. is another cosmetic corporation recently slammed with an asbestos lawsuit claiming its cosmetics contain asbestos-contaminated talc. Revlon is a multinational corporate powerhouse that produces cosmetics, fragrances, and skincare products. The lawsuit alleges that the asbestos-contaminated talc led to a Maryland woman developing mesothelioma. Revlon is one of many cosmetic corporations facing heavy-hitting lawsuits like Johnson & Johnson. 

Mesothelioma is a devastating and terminal cancer. It is caused by the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen. The tiny asbestos fibers become trapped in the mesothelium of the lungs, abdomen, heart, or other vital organs within the body. Mesothelioma can take several decades for asbestos-related symptoms to appear.

Maryland Couple Filed Asbestos Lawsuit Against Revlon Inc. in New York 

Laura McDaniel was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in January of 2020. Ms. McDaniel and her husband filed a lawsuit against the giant corporation headquartered in New York City. Ms. McDaniel believes that her diagnosis is directly related to her father’s employment with Revlon.

Ms. McDaniel’s father gave her Revlon’s Jean Nate Silkening Body Powder and other Revlon cosmetics that she used for several years. The asbestos lawsuit does not identify what position or type of work Ms. McDaniel’s father did at Revlon. Revlon’s Jean Nate Silkening Body Powder was first manufactured and distributed in 1935 but has since been discontinued and is no longer available on the market.

Ms. McDaniel is pursuing $20 million in compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are awarded in civil cases where a Plaintiff has suffered a loss as a result of unlawful conduct or negligence at the hands of another party.

Ms. McDaniel is also seeking $40 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages are a unique type of special damages that may be awarded on top of compensatory damages. Punitive damages also act as a determent and are often used to punish a defendant for their negligence or unlawful activity against the plaintiff.  

Ms. McDaniel’s husband, Edward McDaniel, is also a plaintiff in the asbestos lawsuit. He is seeking $5 million for loss of companionship and mental anguish. The couple also named chemical distributor, Whittaker Clark & Daniels Inc., to the asbestos lawsuit.

The McDaniels allege the companies of having reasonable knowledge for several decades that the talc used in their products were contaminated with asbestos. They also had access to years of data since the 1930s, clearly illustrating the products contained asbestos and presented a danger to consumers. Despite having the knowledge, the companies failed to warn consumers of the risk.

The complaint  in the asbestos lawsuit alleges that the “Defendants were members of organizations like the National Safety Council, which widely disseminated information about the asbestos disease to its members, beginning in the 1930s.” Ms. McDaniel further claims that “The defendants  have since the 1930s had numerous workers’ compensation claims filed against them in this state and many other states by employees or former employees alleging asbestos-related pneumoconiosis.”

$18 Million Verdict in California Cosmetic Talc Cancer Case

Phillip Depoian filed an asbestos lawsuit against Whittaker Clark & Daniels after he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. He claimed that he developed the fatal cancer from his father’s exposure to asbestos-contaminated talcum powder used by his father at his barbershop. Mr. Depoian’s attorneys successfully argued that he was exposed to asbestos in talc products at his father’s barbershop and through his use of products, including Clubman, Kings Men, Old Spice, and Shave Talc.

After a six weeklong trial, the jury came to a verdict. The jury placed thirty percent fault on Whittaker, Clark & Daniels. According to a source, “[a] second phase for punitive damages was set to resume before the sole remaining defendant – talc supplier Whittaker, Clark & Daniels – reached a confidential settlement on Oct. 26. In agreeing to the settlement, Whittaker, Clark & Daniels avoided the prospect of additional penalties based on the jury’s finding that it had acted with malice in marketing its talc as asbestos-free without adequately testing the substance.”

Talcum Powder in Cosmetic Products

Several beauty and cosmetic products contain talcum powder. Talc is a naturally occurring ore and is one of the softest minerals on the planet. The mineral absorbs moisture and produces a smooth, silky texture. It is most commonly used in cosmetic creams, eye shadows, and finishing powders.

Talc is an “inactive” element in talcum powder. That means that the talc does not ignite a chemical reaction when it is used on a person’s skin or when it is ingested. The mineral is not explosive or flammable. Surprisingly, talc is extremely common and is used in our everyday life. It is used in paints, houses, cars, magazines, and even in bubble gum.  

Only “pharmaceutical grade” talc is used in baby powder. According to a source, “[a]s it is soft to the touch and inert, talc has been valued for centuries as a body powder. Today it also plays an important role in many cosmetic products, providing the silkiness in blushes, powder compacts and eye shadows, the transparency of foundations, and the sheen of beauty creams. In pharmaceuticals, talc is an ideal excipient, used as a glidant, lubricant, and diluent. Soap manufacturers also use talc to enhance skin care performance.”

Talc is typically found used in the following personal care products:

  • Baby Powder
  • Body and Shower Products
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Lotions
  • Lipstick
  • Foundation
  • Deodorants
  • Facemasks
  • Eyeshadow

One of the most renowned sources of talc, which has been linked with the greatest offs of carcinogenic effects, is found in baby powders. Not only do these popular brands contain talc, but it has been found that they also may contain talc contaminated with asbestos. Here are a few popular brands that consumers should be aware of:

  • Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder
  • Estee Lauder Body Powder
  • Gold Bond Body Powder
  • Nivea Pure Talc
  • Show to Shower Body Powder 
  • Summer’s Eve Body Powder

Popular makeup and cosmetic brands that contain talc include:

  • Avon
  • Almay
  • Covergirl
  • Maybelline
  • L’Oreal

Deodorant and antiperspirant products are some of the most common places to find talc. Some popular brands include: 

  • Arm & Hammer
  • Arrid
  • Axe
  • Degree
  • Dial
  • Dove
  • Old Spice
  • Right Guard
  • Secret
  • Suave 

The label should list “talcum powder” or “cosmetic talc.” The Food and Drug Administration sampled makeup products from two popular stores aimed at children and teenagers. The Food and Drug Administration found that both Claire’s and Justice were selling makeup products that contained asbestos- and many of them have been slammed with an asbestos lawsuit. 

According to the New York Times, “[i]t detected the carcinogen in half of 20 products, including Claire’s eye shadow and compact powder, JoJo Siwa makeup sold at Claire’s, and bronzers, blush and other makeup made by Beauty Plus Global City Color Cosmetics and sold in retail outlets.” 

The Food and Drug Administration announced that Claire’s “refused to comply” with the agency’s request to recall all three of the items that tested positive for asbestos. The Food and Drug Administration also warned consumers in a statement and on social media against using the products.

The HuffPost reported that “Claire’s refuted the FDA’s claim, accusing the FDA of faulty testing and maintaining that its products were safe. However, the company said it had removed the products identified by the FDA from its stores ‘out of an abundance of caution.’” A Claire’s spokeswoman announced that the company had removed all of the remaining “talc-based” cosmetic products and would honor returns for such products.

In March of 2018, Claire’s filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy as sales performance at malls fell, and online shopping rose. The bankruptcy protected Claire’s from facing numerous asbestos lawsuits for the asbestos contamination. Representative Frank Pallone responded, stating, “[e]xamples like Claire’s refusal to voluntarily recall their asbestos-tainted products demonstrates the need to modernize the current regulatory framework for cosmetic and personal care products to ensure that FDA can act to protect consumers when industry fails to do so.” 

Mining Talc and Asbestos 

Both talc and asbestos minerals are found within the earth’s surface. Asbestos is also a naturally transpiring silicate mineral and is composed of a dissimilar crystal structure. Both are found in rock deposits throughout the world.

Both minerals are usually mined together because they are usually within close vicinity of each other. Talc has been a versatile mineral used for centuries and has been especially useful in personal care. One of the main differences between the two is that asbestos is a carcinogen, and talc is not.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, “[t]here is the potential for contamination of talc with asbestos and therefore, it is important to select talc mining sites carefully and take steps to test the ore sufficiently.”

The Dangers of Asbestos-Contaminated Talc

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) holds that there is no safe degree of asbestos exposure. Even minuscule amounts of asbestos, even exposures over the course of a few short days, can lead to the development of mesothelioma. The Environmental Working Group has estimated that roughly 15,000 Americans die each year from an asbestos-triggered disease.

Talcum powder contaminated with asbestos has been related to a large number of adverse effects and illnesses, which include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic Lung Irritation and Talcosis
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Pneumonia 
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Respiratory Issues in Infants

Multiple studies have linked talc contaminated with asbestos to causing mesothelioma- one of the key complaints in asbestos lawsuits. One recent study examined 33 cases of malignant mesothelioma. The subjects did not have any other known exposure to asbestos other than their use of cosmetic talcum powder. The study results showed that the type of asbestos observed in the talcum powder was found in all six cases assessed. The study concluded that “[e]xposure to asbestos-contaminated talcum powders can cause mesothelioma. Clinicians should elicit a history of talcum powder usage in all patients presenting with mesothelioma.”

In 1976, Rohl and Langer tested 20 commercial consumer products body powders, baby powders, facial talcum products, and one pharmaceutical talc. Ten out of the 20 products tested contained measurable amounts of tremolite and anthophyllite, and mostly asbestiform. The analyses illustrated that the products tested were rarely the pure mineral talc, but instead were composed of a mixture of various minerals.

The study in 1976 concluded that “[p]ossible adverse health effects from intermittent use of these products, especially those that contain asbestiform and fragmented anthophyllite and tremolite, chrysotile, quartz, and trace metals, are presently unknown and warrant evaluation.” 

The study found that the following products contained less than five percent of asbestos:

  • English Leather Aftershave
  • Faberge Brut Talc
  • Mennen Shave Talc
  • Yardley Invisible Talc
  • Yardley Black Label Baby Powder

One product, Bauer & Black Baby Talc, contained fifteen percent. Additionally, the study provided that the following included eight to twenty percent of the carcinogen:

  • Cashmere Bouquet 
  • Rosemary Talc
  • Coty Airspun Face Powder
  • ZBT Baby Powder

Provided that asbestos has been linked to the only cause of asbestos, it is essential to note that cosmetic talc contained asbestos and was commercially available for everyday consumer use- another cause for an asbestos lawsuit.

A recent study evaluated asbestos in cosmetic talcum powder to determine if it was a cause of mesothelioma in women. The objective of this study was to evaluate a historic brand of cosmetic talcum powder and its association with mesothelioma in women. The brand of talcum powder studied did, in fact, contain asbestos. Additionally, upon the application of the powder, asbestos fibers were released in the air risking inhalation of the toxin. The researches removed lung and lymph node tissues during an autopsy, which revealed pleural (lungs) mesothelioma. The breakdown of the tissues contained anthophyllite and tremolite asbestos.

The routine application of the powder only increases the opportunities for inhalation. The research explains that the microscopic asbestos fibers could then become “concentrated in the peripheral airways and alveoli of the lungs of the talcum powder users. This has been supported by the presence of granulomas in the lungs of some talcum powder users.” 

All three laboratories used in this study confirmed in multiple tests the presence of asbestiform anthophyllite. It also confirmed the presence of asbestiform tremolite in the talcum cosmetic powder products. The findings in this study are consistent with what was found and explained by Rohl and Langer over four decades ago. The study concluded that its findings indicate that historic talcum powder exposure is a “causative factor” in the development of mesothelioma in women.

According to a source, “… the only way for consumers to know if products are free of asbestos is if manufacturers use talc that is tested and certified as asbestos-free. However, one type of asbestos known as tremolite was found in cosmetic talcum powders labeled “tremolite-free,” suggesting that this approach is not foolproof.”

The Food and Drug Administration’s Role

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioned laboratory testing on talc-based cosmetics. Testing of the talc samples was performed on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Further, one of the nation’s most prominent laboratories, AMA Analytical Services, Inc. (AMA), was initially contracted in September of 2018 to test cosmetics that used talc as an ingredient. The report revealed that the notorious toxin was found that in nearly 20 percent of the samples tested.

On March 9, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration released the laboratory’s report. The report found that nine out of 52 products tested were positive for asbestos, making way for an asbestos lawsuit.

The presence of asbestos in cosmetics is primarily marketed towards children. As a result, Congress and consumers have expressed great concern about the findings. 

Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), the United States Food and Drug Administration is not permitted to evaluate cosmetic products outside of color additives. Additionally, there is no stringent-regulation of cosmetic-grade talc. Therefore, cosmetic companies are managed by their internal safety regulations.

The Act does require the cosmetics to be appropriately labeled, and they must be safe for consumer use or “customary conditions of use.” The law also provides that it does not require cosmetic companies to share any safety information with the Food and Drug Administration. 

The American Cancer Society stated that “[i]n 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association (CTFA), which is the trade association representing the cosmetic and personal care products industry, issued voluntary guidelines stating that all talc used in cosmetic products in the United States should be free from detectable amounts of asbestos according to their standards.”

The Food and Drug Administration’s authority is limited to monitoring for potential safety issues with cosmetics on the market. The agency only takes action when it is necessary to protect public health. The Food and Drug Administration states that “[b]efore we can take such action against a cosmetic, we need sound scientific data to show that it is harmful under its intended use.”

Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Update on Talcum Powder Testing 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that encourages people to live better lives in a healthier environment. Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, recently stated, “A .200 batting average in baseball is borderline bad, but it’s downright deplorable when it comes to asbestos in cosmetics and this should be tackled with an asbestos lawsuit. The results of FDA’s tests should be all the evidence needed for Congress to act quickly to pass legislation mandating all talc-based personal care products are rigorously tested and the cosmetics industry is required to put the public’s safety first.”

Global Cosmetic Industry Magazine recently reported members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health approved landmark cosmetics safety legislation–a massive step toward protecting people from toxic chemicals in their personal care products.

New Legislation Introduced by Michigan Representative Debbie Dingell

Michigan Representative Debbie Dingell has recently introduced legislation that would force companies that manufacture and distribute cosmetics marketed to children are free of asbestos. Moreover, if the companies could not definitively prove their products were free of asbestos, the items would be required to carry a warning label disclosing the products do, in fact, contain the toxin. The bill also seeks to update methods of testing cosmetics for the presence of the carcinogen. 

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, Linda Reinstein, told the Environmental Working Group that “[i]t is hard to believe that decades after the threats of asbestos have been conclusively established, it is still putting people, especially young children, at risk. Rep. Dingell’s bill should pass with unanimous support among her colleagues in Congress, and every parent should applaud her efforts to keep kids safe from something as lethal as asbestos.”

Representative Dingell has also reigned the support of the Environmental Working Group that because of her efforts to push the bill through Congress, consumers will be fully aware that asbestos is present in certain products. The silent killer is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans each year, and the carcinogen is found in the cosmetics used by children and other consumers across the nation, often resulting in numerous asbestos lawsuits filtering the legal system. 

International and National Studies

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), study substances in the environment to establish if they can cause cancer. The International Agency for Research Cancer has found:

  • Talc that is tainted with asbestos is a “carcinogenic to humans.”
  • Inhaled talc that does not contain asbestos is “not classifiable” as a carcinogen in humans.
  • Perineal (genital) application of body powder as potentially “carcinogenic to humans.” 

The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) is constructed from sections of various government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The National Toxicology Program has not been completely reviewed talc (with or without asbestos) as a possible carcinogen.

Baby Powder Litigation Sweeps the Nation

Revlon has been named as a defendant in a smaller number of asbestos lawsuits in comparison to pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. Thousands of actions have been filed against Johnson & Johnson, claiming that the consumer’s use of the asbestos-contaminated talc goods have led to a cancer diagnosis. The bulk of the cases involve women and the development of ovarian cancer as a result of the contaminated talc. According to a source, “[a]bout 16,800 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against J&J in U.S. state and federal courts alleging the company’s talcum powders caused ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, and J&J failed to warn consumers of this risk properly.”

Johnson & Johnson has always contended that their products were safe. However, the company issued a voluntary recall in October of 2019 of 33,000 bottles of its baby powder. The press release issued on October 18, 2019, by the Food and Drug Administration stated, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting consumers about Johnson’s Baby Powder Lot #22318RB. A sample from this lot was found to contain chrysotile fibers, a type of asbestos. On October 18, 2019, Johnson & Johnson voluntarily recalled this product, and consumers who have this lot of baby powder should stop using it.”

Johnson & Johnson has been accused of having a suspect past of concealing their knowledge of asbestos in their products. Evidence of the allegations can be traced back to 1976. The Food and Drug Administration was evaluating limits on asbestos in cosmetics containing talc. Johnson & Johnson sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration reassuring the regulator that there was no asbestos “detected in any sample” of talc manufactured and distributed between December 1972 and October 1973.  

Johnson & Johnson failed to disclose that in at least three tests conducted by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 found asbestos in its talc. One reported levels as “rather high.” 

According to a source, “[t]he World Health Organization and other authorities recognize no safe level of exposure to asbestos. While most people exposed never develop cancer, for some, even small amounts of asbestos are enough to trigger the disease years later. Just how small hasn’t been established. Many plaintiffs allege that the amounts they inhaled when they dusted themselves with tainted talcum powder were enough.”

In February of 2016, a St. Louis, Missouri jury awarded a $72 million verdict in a class action asbestos lawsuit for damages sustained as a result of the use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. The jury concluded that Johnson & Johnson’s baby and body powder led to the plaintiffs’ ovarian cancer. The jury also found Johnson & Johnson liable for conspiracy, fraud, and negligence. The verdict consisted of $62 million in punitive damages in an effort to punish Johnson & Johnson for neglecting to warn users of the risks of its baby powder. The verdict in the asbestos lawsuit also consisted of $10 million in compensatory damages. 

Two years later, in 2018, a St. Louis jury returned a $4.14 Billion verdict just in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson. Additionally, the jury awarded $550 million in compensatory damages to 22 women who alleged Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder goods contained asbestos leading to the development of their ovarian cancers. The jury delivered its verdict after eight hours of deliberation, finding that Johnson & Johnson was liable for negligence by failing to warn against the risks associated with the use of their products.

In 2017, a Los Angeles, California jury returned a $417 million verdict to Eva Echeveria who claimed that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder led to ovarian cancer while using the product for feminine hygiene. The jury awarded $68 million in compensatory damages and an astonishing $340 million in punitive damages.

In March of 2019, a California jury returned a $29.4 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a talcum powder asbestos lawsuit. The verdict breakdown is as follows:

  • $1.2 million for lost wages
  • $1.3 million for medical expenses
  • $5 million in compensation for the plaintiff’s family
  • $22 million for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering. 

In April of 2018, a New Jersey Jury found in favor of the plaintiff Banker Stephen Alonzo III and awarded him $37 million. Mr. Alonzo was able to successfully argue that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder contained asbestos, which led to his development of mesothelioma. $30 million of the total verdict was in compensatory damages, while the remaining $7 million was awarded to Mr. Alonzo and his wife for damages related to loss of consortium. 

In May of 2019, a New York jury awarded Donna Olson a $25 million verdict. Ms. Olson claimed that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder caused her to develop the terminal cancer mesothelioma. The jury later returned an additional award of $300 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson.

A large number of asbestos lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson has cost the company billions of dollars. A business professor at the University of Michigan told the New York Times that market analyst “… estimate the baby powder lawsuits could cost Johnson & Johnson $5 billion to $10 billion. The recall could lead to the company’s having to pay more in damages or to settle cases.”

Filing a Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuit

Ovarian cancer is not the only cancer that can lead to a talcum powder asbestos lawsuitStudies have associated contaminated talc and mesothelioma. Time is of the essence when preparing and filing a claim. The statute of limitations differs from state to state. The statute of limitations is the period of time a person has to bring a complaint before they are barred.  

The statute of limitations could also factor into when the cancer was diagnosed, and when the person learned, it could be linked to talcum powder. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is vital to contact an attorney as soon as possible. This is especially true if you or a loved one has contracted the cancer after exposure to talc products, which includes baby powder or other talc-based products.

Toxic tort lawsuits have been filed against giant consumer product manufacturers over genuine fears that many talc-containing products can contain toxins like asbestos. Filing an asbestos lawsuit can be an overwhelming and daunting process. An experienced attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to file a legal claim and pursue compensation. 

Filing a lawsuit cannot take away the pain and suffering caused by a mesothelioma diagnosis, but it may be able to help the emotional and financial burden brought upon you or a loved one as a result of the exposure to asbestos. Contacting an experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal complexities involved in litigation and maximize you or your loved one’s potential compensation. 

Ms. Laura McDaniel’s Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuit is Case No. 190058/2020, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.

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