Jury Awards $29M+ Cosmetic Talc Asbestos Verdict

Posted by David Siegel on Mar 6, 2023 9:20:36 AM

Plant closings

CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Jessica Dean delivering her closing argument

Columbia, SC - A South Carolina state court jury returned a $29.14 million verdict on Friday in a lawsuit filed by a woman claiming she developed fatal cancer from exposure to asbestos in cosmetic talc products, and the full trial was recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

The Richland County jury found talc supplier Whittaker Clark & Daniels liable for plaintiff Sarah Plant’s mesothelioma - a form of a cancer frequently associated with asbestos exposure - while clearing talc manufacturer IMI Fabi of any responsibility for Plant’s illness.

The trial also included cosmetics company Mary Kay and makeup pigment company Color Techniques when attorneys delivered openings statements on February 23, however both companies were no longer active defendants when the case went to the jury after reaching confidential settlements with the plaintiff.

The trial is believed to be the first involving cosmetic talc asbestos claims against Mary Kay, according to Plant’s attorney Jessica Dean of Dean Omar Branham Shirley, the Texas-based firm that represented Plant and her family.

Plant’s complaint originally included a number of defendants who were no longer active in the case when it went to trial, including among others Colgate, Avon Products and Johnson & Johnson.

Plant, 35, claimed that a lifetime of using cosmetic talc products supposedly containing asbestos presented the only reasonable explanation for her sudden diagnosis with mesothelioma. During the trial her attorneys argued cosmetics companies, talc manufacturers and distributors knew for years that talc-based cosmetics contained asbestos but withheld that information from the public to protect the sales of popular brands.

Both monthly and annual subscribers to CVN’s online trial video library get unlimited access to CVN’s gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial, along with numerous other cosmetic talc and asbestos trials in jurisdictions throughout the United States.


The verdict breaks down to $871,356 in past medical expenses, $3,268,336 in future medical expenses, $20 million for Plant’s pain and suffering and $5 million for her husband Parker’s loss of consortium claims.

After the trial Dean told CVN the Plant family was “incredibly grateful to the jury for their attention and thoughtfulness” and hoped the verdict would spur companies to stop using talc in their cosmetic products. She also expressed regret that a costly jury trial was the only way to resolve Plant’s claims.

“The goal appears to wear out the litigants, the experts and the family,” Dean said. “There is a better way to handle these issues.”

Attorneys for Whittaker Clark & Daniels and IMI Fabi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The defendants accused Plant’s attorneys of relying on flawed scientific studies linking talc exposure to mesothelioma, noting that workers in talc mines with exponentially greater exposure to the mineral than Plant’s supposedly don’t show higher cancer rates than the general population.

They also argued government regulatory agencies did not support the link between talc exposure and cancer, a strategy that Dean took issue with after the trial.

“They claim we are conspiracy theorists claiming the government missed bad conduct and is inept,” Dean said. “We showed hundreds of tests that were withheld from our government until recently, among other behavior, which explains how a household product went under the radar.”

Dean expressed disappointment the jury rejected Plant’s claims against IMI Fabi, but she hoped the overall verdict would encourage cosmetic talc defendants to give greater consideration to pre-trial settlements, especially in cases involving plaintiffs with only a short time to live.

“When our clients don’t have time and are vulnerable from their diagnosis and for many (and certainly for Sarah Plant) it’s their first activity with the court it is maddening that they refuse to meaningfully engage,” Dean said.

The trial took place before former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina Jean Toal, who now presides over the state’s consolidated asbestos docket.

The case is captioned Sarah Plant v. Avon Products Inc., et al., case number 2022CP4001265, in South Carolina's Richland County Circuit Court.

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Topics: Asbestos, Talc