Couple says Bristol-Myers Squibb responsible for leukemia

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 3, 2011

CHARLESTON – A Charleston couple is suing Bristol-Myers Squibb Company for a leukemia diagnosis from exposure to benzene.

Colomer Beauty Brands USA, Inc.; Hair We Are, Inc.; L'Oreal USA, Inc.; OPI Products, Inc.; Redken Laboratories, LLC; Revlon, Inc.; and S&S Beauty Supplies, Inc. were also named as defendants in the suit.

Angela Atkins worked in salons as a hair dresser and manicurist and was exposed to benzene and/or benzene derivatives from the use of hair dye products and acrylic nail products manufactured, distributed and/or supplied by the defendants, according to a complaint filed Oct. 11 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Atkins claims the defendants were negligent in allowing benzene and/or benzene-containing products to be placed into the stream of interstate commerce and allowing her to be exposed.

On Feb. 25, Atkins was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, according to the suit.

Atkins claims the defendants failed to advise her of the dangerous characteristics of their benzene and/or benzene-containing products.

The defendants failed and omitted to take reasonable precautions or to exercise reasonable care to publish, adopt and enforce a safety plan and a safe method of handling benzene, according to the suit.

Atkins and her husband, Teddy Atkins II, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Jonathan Mani.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-1816

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