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From Products Liability Law Daily, November 19, 2018

Coty to pay almost $500K to girl allegedly injured by depilatory cream

By Georgia D. Koutouzos, J.D.

A South Carolina federal court approved an agreement under which cosmetics and skin care giant Coty, Inc., will pay approximately $470,000 over time to settle negligence and products liability claims on behalf of a young girl who allegedly had been blinded in one eye due to her use of Sally Hansen depilatory cream. The gravamen of the underlying allegations was that Coty had failed to warn users of the product’s potentially dangerous chemical properties (Burns v. Coty, Inc., November 15, 2018, Gossett, P.).

After her minor daughter sustained an alkaline burn that resulted in a complete loss of vision in her left eye as the result of exposure to the cream-based depilatory Sally Hansen Simply Smooth Hair Remover, her mother filed suit against the product’s manufacturer, Coty, Inc., alleging that the company failed to properly label and warn users of the potentially dangerous chemical properties of the depilatory. Asserting causes of action for negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, breach of warranties, and violations of South Carolina’s misbranded food and cosmetics law, the woman’s amended complaint included a prayer for actual and punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and expenses, and attorney fees.

The parties engaged in extensive pre-trial discovery, after which Coty moved for summary judgment. The motion was denied, and the parties engaged in mediation that ultimately was unsuccessful. A jury was selected, but the parties were able to reach a settlement agreement shortly thereafter.

Under the proposed settlement submitted to the court, Coty agreed to pay $240,549.45 in cash to the plaintiff and her attorneys at the time of settlement, plus another $228,281.71 to the injured minor in three installments payable in 2029, 2034, and 2039. Also included was 40 percent of the total recovery ($188,000) in attorney fees to the plaintiff’s counsel.

Concluding that the compromise was a fair, just, and reasonable settlement of the contest and controversy between the parties and that the attorney fees and costs were equally reasonable, the court approved the settlement as proposed.

The case is No. 1:15-cv-05060-TLW-PJG.

Attorneys: Deloris King Cromartie (Bell Legal Group) for Brenda Burns. Carmelo B. Sammataro (Turner Padget Graham and Laney PA) for Coty US LLC and Coty, Inc.

Companies: Coty US LLC; Coty, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory SettlementAgreementsNews HouseholdProductsNews DamagesNews WarningsNews SouthCarolinaNews

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