Cosmetics Companies Abused Their Responsibility To Self-Regulate And Are Facing Enormous Punitive Damage Awards As A Result
Cosmetics are not tested for safety by the FDA before being offered to the public in retail stores
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 - Johnson & Johnson dominated the news over the past several years for the lottery-like jury awards being handed out and the company's failed attempt to shelter the parent company by spinning off their talcum powder cancer liabilities into bankruptcy. Johnson & Johnson is not the only company being held accountable by consumers for making products that contain talcum powder laced with asbestos. Other companies have faced plaintiffs with mesothelioma and ovarian cancer and have been forced to pay multi-million dollar compensatory awards and punitive damages intended to punish them for their reprehensible corporate conduct. Another company that has taken a legal blow, and may face hundreds more talcum powder lawsuits in the years to come is American International Industries (AII), the manufacturer of Clubman talc. AII was recently the defendant in a landmark lawsuit that mirrored those against Johnson & Johnson. AII was held liable for failing to warn consumers that there was a risk of developing ovarian cancer if Clubman Talcum Powder was used for feminine hygiene purposes. A group of women was awarded $29 million for their injuries in a talcum powder lawsuit after alleging they developed ovarian cancer after using Clubman talcum powder for feminine hygiene.
The Clubman Talc case was similar to many of the 38,000 pending lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson in that plaintiff attorneys argued that not only did Clubman talc contain asbestos, a known carcinogen, but also that AII knew or had the responsibility for knowing that their product was contaminated and failed to warn consumers. The cosmetics industry is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and shockingly there is no pre-market testing requirement. This means that companies themselves are responsible for self-testing their cosmetics for dangerous chemicals and compounds like asbestos, formaldehyde, and the like, and must report their findings to the FDA. Most companies including AII put the desire for monetary profits over the health concerns of consumers and looked the other way regarding product testing until they got caught. Jurors have been angered when informed of the self-regulating supposition by cosmetics companies and have responded with enormous punitive damage awards when companies failed to live up to their word. Most people today continue to believe that if a cosmetics product is offered for sale that it has been safety tested and approved. Nothing could be further from the truth. Asbestos has been discovered in several cosmetic products offered by Claire's, a well-known retailer of accessories and makeup for young girls the FDA warned. Eyeshadow palettes, compact powders, and compact powders were among the impacted goods.
One of the more interesting aspects of the Clubman Talc cancer trial is that company executives admitted to never thinking that testing their talc for asbestos was required of them. Companies buying talc relied on the purity representation of their talc supplier guaranteeing their talc was cosmetics grade. The jury, however, found that AII and by default other cosmetics companies have the obligation to test their talc supply using the most advanced methods of testing talc for asbestos and to either recall their product or place a warning label on the product.