Dean Omar Branham Shirley firm prevails for asbestos victim following three-month trial
LOS ANGELES – A California woman who is dying of mesothelioma has won her legal case against cosmetics giant Avon and a forklift maker, following a nearly year-long legal battle that resulted in a combined verdict of $52.1 million.
The cumulative amount includes $40.8 million in actual damages and another $11.3 million in punitive damages.
Rita-Ann Chapman and her husband Gary Chapman grew up in Los Angles but retired in Arizona. They filed suit against Avon and other companies claiming their products contained cancer-causing asbestos and are to blame for Ms. Chapman’s mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin tissue that lines the body’s internal organs. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos and is always fatal.
In Ms. Chapman’s case, attorneys argued her use of Avon cosmetic products, containing talc and asbestos, were a cause of her cancer. She started using Avon as an 8-year-old and used body and face powders through most of her life. Avon sold body and face powder talc products that were used primarily on children and women in their homes, and sold talc products from all over the world including industrial talc.
In addition, Mr. Chapman worked at a Hyster company that made forklifts. He handled asbestos-lined brakes, clutches and gaskets and was around those working with those products. In washing his work clothes, Ms. Chapman experienced even more exposure. The jury heard that Hyster sold asbestos parts until 2003, lied about when the company first knew about the dangers of asbestos, destroyed records after being sued and removed asbestos warnings from brake suppliers before selling them to the public.
“Rita and her mother relied on a belief that Avon’s products were safe to use,” said Ben Adams of Dean Omar Branham Shirley, who represented Ms. Chapman and her husband. “She had no reason to even think they might cause cancer.”
In their verdict, jurors placed 90% of the blame for Ms. Chapman’s cancer on Avon Products, Inc. and the other 10% on Hyster-Yale Group, Inc. The monetary damages include $40 million in non-economic damages. The punitive damage award against Avon was $10.3 million. This was after the jury was asked to find a number that meant something to Avon. Avon chose to sell four talc products that the company found had high levels of asbestos for 103 days to exhaust its stocks. The jury also assessed $1 million in punitive damages against Hyster.
Rita and Gary Chapman are grateful to the jury for months of faithful consideration of the evidence.
The trial team included Jessica Dean, Ben Adams and Rachel Gross of Dean Omar Branham Shirley, LLP.
The case is Rita-Ann Chapman et al. vs. Avon Products, Inc. et al., Case number 22STCV05968 California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles, Central District.
About Dean Omar Branham Shirley, LLP
Dean Omar Branham Shirley LLP, is a nationally recognized trial firm that handles cases across the country for individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries or have died as a result of irresponsible conduct of others. For more information, please visit https://dobslegal.com/.