Our lawyers are reviewing hair relaxer cancer lawsuits in all 50 states. Our focus is on
Our law firm is concentrating our efforts on the following:
- Dark & Lovely, Ultra Sheet, etc., (L’Oréal, the most prominent defendant, a company worth nearly $225 billion)
- ORS Olive Oil Hair Relaxer (Namaste, LLC)
- Just for Me (TCB Naturals/Godrej Consumer Products)
- Motions (Strength of Nature Global, LLC)
- Revlon (which is in bankruptcy but appears to have good insurance coverage for chemical hair straightener claims)
Our attorneys also review chemical hair straightener lawsuits involving Optimum Salon and other hair perms and hair straightener products.
Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit Update
Our law firm has been and will be the leading source of news, updates, and information about hair relaxer lawsuits in this country. Our attorneys are committed to keeping our clients and other victims informed. So bookmark this page and come back for the latest information.
September 27, 2023 – New MDL Management Order
In an effort to help manage the explosive growth in the Hair Relaxer MDL, Judge Rowland issued Case Management Order No. 9 – Service of and Responses to Short Form Complaints (CMO 9) earlier this month. The Order sets clear rules and procedures for the use of the Short Form Complaint (SFC) by the thousands of incoming new plaintiffs that are filing cases in the MDL.
September 18, 2023 – Hair Relaxer MDL Adds 2,000 New Cases in 3 Months
Since the hair relaxer class action MDL began earlier this year, our lawyers have been predicting that it could become one of the biggest mass torts in the country. We are now seeing that prediction start to come true. 2,000 new cases have been added to the hair relaxer class action just over the last 3 months. That puts this MDL on pace to surpass 4,000 cases by the end of the year. We think this pace will continue and even increase and that this MDL could eventually rival the talcum powder MDL in terms of size.
September 4, 2023 New Law Firm
One of the primary defendants in the hair relaxer class action lawsuit, Dabur International (parent company of Namaste Laboratories), has changed defense counsel this week. Dabur has replaced its defense team from the firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLC (the lead defense firm in the 3M earplug litigation) with a new team of lawyers from the firm of Baker & McKenzie LLP. So Dabur is trading in one law firm that has a zillion lawyers for another law firm that has a zillion lawyers.
September 1, 2023 – Status Conference
There was a status conference last week before Judge Rowland. First, a deadline of August 30, 2023, was set for a joint written status report about one defendant’s McBride motions to dismiss. Defendant Dermoviva Skin Essentials Inc. was dismissed from the class action earlier this month (but it can still be brought back in).
Second, regarding the discovery process, parties are discussing Federal Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures – which relate to the experts – and other discovery issues. There were discussions about 30(b)(6) depositions and electronic discovery (ESI), especially concerning defendants Beauty Bell, Revlon, and Namaste. A 30(b)(6) deposition, also known as a corporate deposition, is a legal procedure where an organization designates one or more of its representatives to testify on its behalf in response to specific topics or areas of inquiry.
Third, the bankruptcy counsel updated the court about the Revlon bankruptcy status and subject matter jurisdiction related to cases against Revlon. Rumor has it that Revlon has $1 billion in insurance coverage. So although it may be broken, it is a vital defendant.
Finally, the court informed parties that Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) were posted on the Court’s MDL webpage.
August 26, 2023 – Discovery Battles
A status hearing focused on discovery matters is scheduled for October 2, 2023. Many battles in mass torts over documents and depositions in these cases and how they will proceed. This litigation is no exception.
August 21, 2023 – New Lawsuit
A Brooklyn, Minnesota woman became one of the most recent plaintiffs to join the hair relaxer class action MDL yesterday. This new plaintiff filed her hair relaxer lawsuit directly in the MDL using the Short Form Complaint.
According to her hair relaxer lawsuit, Hardin used three chemical hair relaxer products between 1985 and 2011: ORS Olive Oil, Just for Me, and S&B Botanicals. Strength of Nature, LLC and Namaste Laboratories were the two defendants named in the case. She was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2019.
August 18, 2023 – Master Complaint Is Done
The plaintiffs’ master complaint has been filed. It is an excellent and detailed explanation – over 400 pages – of plaintiffs’ allegations.
August 17, 2023 – MDL Grows to 275 Cases
There are now 275 pending cases in the hair relaxer class action MDL. Another 36 new cases were added to the MDL over the last 30 days. That is down somewhat from the previous month, but this is always a very slow time of year for new mass tort filings, and we saw similar downticks in new filings in all of the other MDLs we follow.
August 14, 2023 – Master Lawsuit Due
The plaintiff’s master complaint is due today. A master complaint is often filed in an MDL class action like this that consolidates the common factual and legal claims made by all the plaintiffs. This doesn’t mean all the lawsuits are merged into one; they remain individual suits. The master complaint is a lawsuit that makes all of the allegations that will be brought by most hair relaxer lawsuits. This helps guide pretrial discovery efforts in the case.
A new short form complaint was approved by the court last week. This allow plaintiffs to refer to the new master complaint, making it easier to file a hair relaxer cancer lawsuit.
August 4, 2023 – Short Form Complaint Adopted in MDL
New hair relaxer cancer lawsuits can now be filed directly in the class action MDL using the official Short Form Complaint that Judge Rowland approved earlier this week. The Short Form Complaint and direct filing options will significantly streamline the process of filing new hair relaxer lawsuits in the MDL and should lead to a continued increase in new filings.
July 18, 2023 – MDL Case Filings Reach New Monthly High
As predicted, things are starting to ramp up in the hair relaxer class action litigation. 87 new hair relaxer cancer lawsuits were added to the MDL last month. That is the highest monthly total of new cases since the start of the MDL and it is a continuation of the steady upward trend in new case filings over the last 4 months. Back in February, there were only 21 cases pending in the MDL. There are now 236 pending cases.
July 16, 2023 – MDL Court Orders
After a hearing, the MDL judge instructed defendants to respond to plaintiffs’ interrogatories seeking identification of the products and product ID’s by Tuesday, July 18, 2023, at noon central time. By July 21, 2023, the interrogatories must be verified and can be supplemented if necessary. The parties are encouraged to discuss and negotiate the remaining interrogatory responses and request deadline extensions if required. Additionally, the Court has raised the matter of incorporating an additional question on the Short Form Complaint to establish subject matter jurisdiction.
The next status hearing scheduled for August 23, 2023, at 1:00 pm CST.
July 5, 2023 – Revlon Update
Revlon has have presented to the MDL judge an update on their ongoing bankruptcy proceedings and a response to the plaintiffs’ status report, submitted on June 30, 2023. Revlon is a big deal because even though it is in bankruptcy, it reportedly has a large insurance policy to cover hair relaxer cancer lawsuits. Revlon is responsible for hair relaxers such as Crème of Nature, African Pride, French Perm, Fabulaxer, Revlon Professional, Revlon Realistic, Herbarich, and All Ways Natural Relaxer.
Revlon asserts that the plaintiffs’ report inaccurately portrays some aspects of the bankruptcy proceedings and highlights concerns previously addressed in these proceedings. Revlon’s update includes the detailed provisions of the bankruptcy proceedings and confirmation order to guide the court regarding the possible implications on MDL class action lawsuit. Revlon emphasizes that any claims against it must adhere to the bankruptcy court’s order and proof-of-claim procedures, and a plaintiff can only assert “Hair Straightening Claims” in these MDL proceedings or in the Southern District of New York after filing a valid proof of claim.
Under the Plan’s articles, potential plaintiffs must file a hair straightening complaint against Revlon by September 14, 2023, and any recovery for these claims, through settlement or judgment, is considered discharged in bankruptcy if not covered by Revlon’s insurance. Revlon recently filed an omnibus objection to various proofs of claim, including those from about 3,000 hair straightening claimants, and expects to file more objections.
Revlon rather preachy update to the court criticized the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ status report for its inaccurate portrayal of the bankruptcy court’s order and for omitting that the hair-straightening-claim objections were resolved prior to the bankruptcy court’s hearing on the objections.
July 1, 2022 – General Causation First?
Defendants have filed a motion for pretrial discovery to focus exclusively on general causation.
What is the defendants’ goal? Delay, delay, delay. What plaintiffs’ lawyers need to get the defendants to offer reasonable settlement amount in the hair relaxer lawsuits is to get a trial date. The defendants need the fear of a multi-million verdict hanging over their heads before they ever get reasonable about what a settlement payout should be. Delaying moving cases forward is a path to waiting years to get to that point.
We think it is unlikely the court will grant the motion. It is not something you typically see in these types of cases.
June 16, 2023 – 149 Cases Now Pending in MDL
There are now 149 plaintiffs with pending cases in the hair relaxer class action MDL litigation. 25 new cases were added to the MDL over the last 30 days and 128 new cases have been added since the MDL was established back in February 2023. The volume of new hair relaxer cases will continue to increase significantly as the year progresses.
June 9, 2023 – Defendants’ Tactics
Defense lawyers in the hair relaxer class action are asking the MDL for a bifurcated discovery plan. Under the plan proposed by the defendants, the first phase of discovery would be limited strictly to the issue of causation and the evidence linking hair relaxers to cancer. Discovery of all other issues would be put on hold until this is completed. The hair relaxer plaintiffs oppose this plan because it would drag the litigation out – which is exactly what the defense lawyers want.
June 1, 2023 – Injuries Caused By Hair Relaxers
Both parties in the chemical hair straightener class action lawsuit will file briefs addressing general causation by June 5, 2023. It will be interesting to hear how defendants dance around the overwhelming science in these cases. There is strong evidence in these cases, particularly for uterine cancer plaintiffs with the Sister Study we discuss below.
May 23, 2023 – Standardized Complaint in Hair Relaxer MDL
In the ongoing hair relaxer lawsuits, a Master Complaint has been filed by the plaintiffs in federal court. A Master Complaint in an MDL class action lawsuit is a comprehensive document encapsulating the shared allegations raised in numerous individual lawsuits. In this case, the allegations of harm from continuous exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in these perms and chemical hair straighteners.
Upon filing the Master Complaint, each plaintiff will submit a shorter, individual complaint (typically referred to as a Short-Form Complaint), which refers back to the Master Complaint and details the specific allegations and damages pertinent to their particular case.
May 15, 2023 – Hair Relaxer Class Action Adds More Cases
As of March 15, 2023, there were 124 plaintiffs with pending cases in the hair relaxer class action MDL. Just three months ago the MDL only had 21 active cases. Most MDLs take 6-9 months to get going in terms of new case filings, so this could indicate that the hair relaxer litigation will get very big by the end of the year.
May 11, 2023 – Pretrial Discovery
Lawyers for plaintiffs and the defendants have issued a joint status report on the remaining points of contention regarding the proposed orders concerning preservation, electronically stored information (ESI), confidentiality, claw-back, and privilege log protocol. The two sides have agreed to consolidate these matters into two proposed orders, namely an ESI Order and a Confidentiality Order, which also include provisions for claw-back and privilege log protocol.
A disputed issue remains in the ESI Order relating to the handling of hard copy documents and the responsibilities of the defendants. There is also a contested issue in the Confidentiality Order concerning whether in-house counsel’s receipt of communications must be logged after the first action in this case was initiated.
None of these disputes are make-or-break. In the ESI Order, plaintiffs’ attorneys request the defendants to describe non-responsive hard copy documents located in the same storage as responsive documents. The defendants argue that such a requirement would be unduly burdensome and expensive without any additional benefit to the plaintiffs. The Confidentiality Order dispute centers around the logging of documents copied to in-house counsel after the initial complaint was filed. The plaintiffs want these documents to be logged unless they were authored by in-house counsel or involved communications with external counsel. However, the defendants argue that logging such communications would be an undue burden considering the high volume of attorney-client privileged communications and attorney work product generated in response to the complaint.
May 1, 2023 – Lawsuit Update
This page is a good summary of the hair relaxer lawsuits and where there are going.
April 25, 2023 – Direct Filing for a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
At the most recent MDL status conference, Judge Rowland indicated that she will allow future cases from around the country to be directly filed in the MDL using a short-form complaint. This will streamline the process of adding new cases to the hair relaxer class action MDL by enabling new plaintiffs to initiate their case in the MDL instead of filing in their home district and having the case transferred into the MDL. Judge Rowland gave the parties a deadline of March 31 to submit a proposed order for direct filing.
April 21, 2023 – Hair Relaxer Recall Push
In light of new evidence showing that hair relaxer products increase the risk of cancer and other complications, prominent politicians and activist groups in the United Kingdom are urging big cosmetic companies such as L’Oreal to remove these products from the market. The UK feminist group Level Up, has published an Open Letter calling for a recall, which influential British political leaders, including top members of parliament, have signed.
You can expect a comparable initiative in the United States.
April 19, 2023 – MDL Status Conference Before Judge Rowland
Yesterday, a status conference was held with all parties in the hair relaxer class action MDL in the Northern District of Illinois. The main issue discussed at the conference was a process for dealing with the admissibility of the plaintiff’s causation evidence. The defendants are pushing for a bifurcated process where Judge Rowland will first consider the admissibility of general causation evidence before evaluating specific causation evidence (i.e., evidence linking hair relaxers to specific cancer types, such as ovarian). The plaintiffs oppose this and claim it will cause unnecessary delays. The court must rule on this but asked the parties to work on an agreed-upon proposal first.
April 18, 2023 – Claims Pile Up
In the past month, the hair relaxer class action lawsuit saw the addition of 24 new cases, bringing the total number of pending lawsuits to 102. As time progresses, the monthly influx of new cases in this litigation is expected to grow, potentially reaching a rate of 200 or more new cases per month by the end of summer. But this is all just the tip of the iceberg.
April 10, 2023 – Hair Relaxer Lawsuits Against Revlon
Revlon Inc., currently in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, is facing an increasing wave of claims alleging that some of their hair products are linked to cancer. A multitude of consumers contend that the company owes them compensation after they developed cancer, purportedly due to using Revlon’s hair relaxers. The deadline to submit such claims passed in October, shortly after the National Institutes of Health unveiled a study indicating a possible connection between certain hair relaxers and uterine cancer.
However, the bankruptcy judge overseeing Revlon’s case recently extended the deadline for cancer-stricken customers to lodge claims against the company. The new deadline is tomorrow.
Revlon and L’Oréal sound like companies with similar size. But L’Oréal is probably 20 times bigger than Revlon.
April 5, 2023 – Newly Filed Claims
The volume of new hair relaxer lawsuits filed nationwide continues to build. There are over 200 pending cases, with 38 new hair relaxer lawsuits filed in federal courts in the last two weeks of March. Following the recent order permitting new cases to be filed directly in the hair relaxer class action MDL, the rate of new filings is expected to increase even more.
April 1, 2023 – Case Management Order for Direct Filing of Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
Yesterday, The MDL judge issued an order allowing any plaintiff whose case would be subject to transfer to the hair relaxer class action lawsuit to file their case directly in the MDL in Northern District of Illinois. The order outlines specific procedures for direct filing, including a required filing fee and a designated venue in the complaint. This order does not constitute a waiver of any party’s legal rights or remedies, nor does it determine the choice of law or jurisdiction. Defendants need not respond to any complaint filed directly in the MDL unless ordered by the court or by an agreement of the parties.
March 27, 2023 – Revlon Part II
Revlon is one of the world’s biggest and best-known cosmetic companies and sells chemical hair relaxer products. However, Revlon has not been named as a defendant in the hair relaxer cancer lawsuits because, shortly before the hair relaxer litigation got started, Revlon Inc. filed bankruptcy.
Revlon’s pending bankruptcy has prevented potential plaintiffs from filing hair relaxer lawsuits against the company, but this does not mean Revlon will escape any liability. The PSC in the hair relaxer class action recently filed a report advising MDL Judge Mary Rowland about the status of the Revlon bankruptcy. According to that report, the PSC has already filed a claim against Revlon on behalf of hair relaxer plaintiffs. This means that Revlon’s potential liability in the hair relaxer class action will have to be estimated and then accounted for in any bankruptcy reorganization plan.
March 21, 2023 – Revlon Bankruptcy
Revlon, a cosmetics company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York last year, even before the chemical hair straightener lawsuit got rolling. Crème of Nature, Herba Rich, African Pride, French Perm, Fabulaxer, Revlon Professional, Revlon Realistic, and All Ways Natural Relaxer are listed by Revlon as products in the litigation.
No surprise here. But your hair relaxer lawyer must preserve your claim against Revlon with the bankruptcy court if you used these products.
March 16, 2023 – Pending Lawsuit
There are now 78 active cases pending in the hair relaxer class action MDL in the Northern District of Chicago. Fifty-seven new hair relaxer cases were transferred straightener to the MDL from federal courts nationwide over the last month. This is probably a sign of things to come. Don’t be surprised if we start seeing 200 new cases a month in this MDL by the end of this year.
March 11, 2023 – Litigation Update
This post sets out where the hair relaxer class action is today and where it is going so you can better understand what is ahead in this litigation. We also recently updated our hysterectomy page that drills down that particular injury from chemical hair straighteners because so many victims we are talking to required a hysterectomy.
March 1, 2023 – Status Conference
The first status conference in the hair relaxer class action MDL will be held tomorrow in Chicago before MDL Judge Mary Rowland. Judge’s Rowland first item of business will be the formation of a plaintiffs’ steering committee (PSC). The PSC will be a group of plaintiffs’ lawyers appointed by Judge Rowland who will meet regularly and make collective decisions on behalf of all the other plaintiffs in the litigation. Judge Rowland will also consider other housekeeping items such as protocol for the discovery of electronic information and preservation of evidence.
February 27, 2023 – Case Count
Twenty-four new hair relaxer lawsuits were filed in federal courts last week. That marks the highest weekly volume of new hair relaxer product liability lawsuits to date and it could be the start of a major wave of new cases.
All 24 of the new hair relaxer cases were filed on Thursday and Friday of last week and 21 of them were filed in the Northern District of Illinois where the hair relaxer class action already pending.
February 19, 2023 – Case Count
Since the start of February, eleven more hair relaxer product liability lawsuits have been filed in federal courts. Seven of the cases were filed in the Northern District of Illinois. The remaining four were filed in districts across the country, but they will all be transferred into the new MDL hair relaxer class action lawsuit in Chicago.
February 7, 2023 – Trump Appointed Judge
Yesterday, the JPML issued an Order consolidating all hair relaxer cancer lawsuits in federal courts into a new MDL class action litigation in the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. The new hair relaxer MDL will start with around 60 pending cases from districts across the country. The mass tort has been assigned to Judge Mary Rowland, a former Magistrate Judge appointed as a full District Court Judge by President Trump in 2019.
We avoid politics here. But let’s be honest. In a vacuum, a Trump nominee is a concern. Those judges have – not always but generally – been less unfavorable (ironically, because Trump is so litigious) to plaintiffs. But Judge Rowland received wide bipartisan support for confirmation and there is no reason to believe she will be anything other than a fair and impartial judge.
February 6, 2023 – Class Action Starts
The MDL Panel agreed there should be a hair relaxer class action lawsuit. The court also agreed with the plaintiffs that Illinois is the most appropriate venue for the class action.
This is a big deal.
February 5, 2023 – EPA and DINPs
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it plans to start regulating phthalates like Diisononyl Phthalate (DINP) as toxic chemicals subject to reporting requirements. This is significant because phthalates, specifically DINP, are the endocrine-disrupting chemicals in hair relaxer products that are believed to cause hormone cancers such as uterine and ovarian cancer.
February 1, 2023: More Suits Filed Pending the MDL Panel’s Class Action Decision
Over the last ten days, another seven new hair relaxer tort lawsuits were filed in federal courts. These most recent hair relaxer cases were spread across seven federal districts: the District of Maryland, the Southern District of Illinois, the Western District of Washington, the Western District of Missouri, and the Central District of California. A total of 23 hair relaxer lawsuits were filed in January. Sometime this month – maybe this week – the JPML is expected to consolidate the hair relaxer cases into a new class action lawsuit, hopefully in Chicago.
January 27, 2023: MDL Panel Meets
The MDL Panel meets today in Florida to determine (1) if there will be a hair relaxer class action lawsuit and (2), if so, where that lawsuit will be housed. The Panel will not rule today. It will likely issue a ruling in a few weeks if history is a guide. We expect these cases to be consolidated in Illinois (the defendants are pushing for New York, which would not be bad). This means that all federal hair relaxer lawsuits, whether filed in Texas, California, Georgia, or any other state in the country, would be sent to a single federal courthouse.
January 17, 2023: New Relaxer Lawsuits
Since the start of this week, three new hair relaxer product liability lawsuits have been filed in federal courts. Two were filed in the Central District of California, and one was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The primary injury alleged in all three of these new cases is uterine cancer. The products named in the lawsuits include Dark & Lovely, ORS Olive Oil, Just For Me, African Pride, Motions, etc.
January 15, 2023: Litigation Update
Since the start of this year, seven new hair relaxer lawsuits have been filed in federal courts, with five of them getting filed this week. The cases were filed in four different federal district courts, including the Western District of Missouri (4), the Eastern District of Michigan (1), the Northern District of Ohio (1), and the Eastern District of Louisiana (1). Five of the cases allege uterine cancer as the primary injury. The injuries claimed in the other two hair straightener lawsuits are ovarian cancer and uterine fibroids.
January 11, 2023: Class Action Hearing Date Set
The class action hearing will be on January 26, 2003.
January 3, 2023: Hair Relaxer Litigation Continues to Grow
The hair relaxer litigation continues to grow with the class action ruling expected in four weeks. There have been no new suits during the holidays. The last new hair relaxer lawsuit was filed on December 23rd. But at least five more hair relaxer lawsuits have been filed in federal courts in December.
Four cases were brought in the Northern District of Illinois, and one was filed in the Southern District of Ohio. Two of these cases allege uterine fibroids as the primary injury, and the other 3 are uterine cancer cases. If this pace of new filings continues, around 25 hair relaxer lawsuits should be pending by the time the JPML decides on the MDL next month.
This current number of lawsuits belies how many hair relaxer lawsuits our attorneys expect will be brought in an eventual class action. Our law firm has over 1,000 clients in a concise period. There will likely be over 100,000 suits filed in this litigation. This may ultimately be one of American history’s most significant class action lawsuits.
December 29, 2022: New Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
Just before Christmas, a new hair relaxer lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois. In Sanders v. L’Oréal, a uterine cancer lawsuit is filed against the most common plaintiffs in this litigation:
- L’Oréal is the parent company of Softsheen-Carson, Inc., which makes Dark & Lovely, Optimum, and other brands
- Strength of Nature, LLC (a subsidiary of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd.) manufactures the Just for Me and Motions line of relaxer products.
- Namaste Laboratories LLC is the subsidiary of Dabur Ltd., which makes the popular ORS line of hair relaxer products.
December 20, 2022: Hearing Set on Class Action Motion
On January 26, 2023, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) held a hearing to decide whether to consolidate the hair relaxer lawsuits in the federal courts into a new class action MDL. (As of January 28, 2023, we are waiting for the court ruling.) A group of hair relaxer plaintiffs filed a motion requesting consolidation back in November. L’Oreal and the rest of the hair relaxer defendants are vehemently opposed to consolidation and will voice those objections at the hearing next month.
December 13, 2022: New Uterine Cancer Lawsuit
A recently filed hair relaxer lawsuit, Brownlee v. LÓreal USA, Inc., et al. (3:22-cv-336), was filed in the Southern District of Ohio. The case was brought by an Ohio resident who alleges that she used chemical hair relaxer products continuously and regularly, starting when she was just 15 in 1973.
The suit identifies three specific hair relaxer products which Brownlee allegedly used: Dark & Lovely, Optimum, and Just for Me. The hair straightener lawsuit does not provide dates for when Brownlee used each lar product. Brownlee was diagnosed with uterine cancer in September 2010 when she was 52.
The defendants named in the Brownlee Complaint include LÓreal, Strength of Nature LLC, and Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. (the parent company of Strength of Nature). Numerous causes of action are asserted against each defendant, including strict liability, failure to warn, and general negligence.
December 9, 2022: Defendants Oppose MDL
L’Oreal and other cosmetic company defendants filed a Response this week stating they oppose the consolidation of the hair relaxer lawsuits into a class action MDL. In its reply, L’Oreal argues that consolidation is not appropriate because the various hair relaxer cases do not involve common allegations or questions of fact.
From where we are sitting, this is a crazy assertion. So many women call our lawyers every day looking to file a hair straightener lawsuit. Their stories are both sad and similar.
If the JPML grants the request and consolidates the hair relaxer cases, L’Oreal argues that the most appropriate forum for the MDL would be the Southern District of New York, where L’Oreal is headquartered, as opposed to Illinois. Our lawyers believe these suits will be successful in New York, Illinois, or anywhere else.
December 8, 2022: New Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
The first hair relaxer lawsuit involving injuries other than uterine cancer was recently filed in the Southern District of Georgia (Gamble v. Strength of Nature Global, LLC, et al. (4:22-cv-00256)).
The plaintiff alleges that she developed uterine fibroids at age 22 after continuously using hair relaxer products at the age of just 6. Her uterine fibroids caused extreme pain, and she underwent surgery to remove them in 2011. The uterine fibroids occurred again just eight years later.
The lawsuit names L’Oreal and a group of other cosmetic companies as defendants and claims that Gamble’s use of hair relaxers made by the defendants caused her to develop uterine fibroids.
November 27, 2022: Who Are the Chemical Hair Straightener Defendants?
So far, L’oreal is the only big-name company identified as a defendant in the hair relaxer cancer lawsuits. L’Oréal is worth nearly $225 billion.
Other major corporations make hair relaxer products that will likely be brought into the litigation. The two most prominent companies in the hair relaxer market that have not been brought into the litigation so far are Unilever and Proctor & Gamble. Unilever hair relaxer brands include Sunsilk and Just For Me, and P&G’s leading relaxer brand is Ultra Sheen.
Unilever has a market cap of $123 billion, and P&G’s market cap is $344 billion. These are huge companies that are used to settling lawsuits. So we are looking at deep-pocket defendants that can pay reasonable settlement compensation payouts. Our lawyers expect these companies to end up as crucial defendants in the evolving hair relaxer cancer litigation.
November 21, 2022: Medical Monitoring Class Action Sought
A new hair relaxer class action lawsuit was filed last week in Michigan seeking to establish a medical monitoring program for women who have used chemical hair relaxer products for many years.
The lawsuit was filed by a group of plaintiffs who allege that they (and thousands of other women) are now at increased risk of cancer due to their use of the defendants’ hair relaxer products. Instead of money damages, this lawsuit seeks to force the defendants to pay for a program that will monitor the health of members of the plaintiff class in the hopes of intervening with early medical treatment. This medical monitoring case comes in the same week the JPML was asked to consolidate the hair relaxer cancer cases into a new MDL class action.
This lawsuit may have merit. Are our hair relaxer lawyers involved in these cases? We are not. Our focus is on women who have been harmed by hair relaxers, not people that will maybe one day be harmed. There is a big difference. So many women have been harmed – many more than our attorneys predicted when we first got involved. So while a medical monitoring class action may have merit, our battle is for those women who have suffered from these chemicals that never should have been in hair relaxers.
November 16, 2022: New Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit Sought
November 15, 2022, lawyers representing a group of plaintiffs who have filed hair relaxer cancer lawsuits filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) requesting consolidation of the hair relaxer lawsuits into a new, class action lawsuit.
The motion notes nine hair relaxer cases involving thirteen individual plaintiffs pending in four different federal district courts. All of the cases allege that hair relaxer products caused uterine cancer. The motion also points out that we have long known that hair relaxers cause burns that give these toxic chemicals an easy path to the body.
The motion requests that the MDL be assigned to Judge Mary Rowland in the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago). The defendants named in the motion include L’Oreal USA, Inc. and a handful of smaller, non-public companies. The defendants will most likely agree to the class action – there will be so many hair relaxer lawsuits filed in the next few months – but will probably request an alternative venue that they view as more favorable than Chicago.
What would be a jury pool more favorable to defendants? I’ll say it out loud. Defendants in these kinds of cases prefer jurisdictions that have fewer Black people on the jury. The federal court in Chicago would be fair to plaintiffs and defendants.
New Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
A product liability lawsuit was filed last week against cosmetic company L’Oreal. It is the first of many hair relaxer cancer lawsuits that will be filed. The suit alleges that chemicals in the company’s hair relaxer products caused uterine cancer. This lawsuit and others like it may pave the way for a hair relaxer class action that alleges these products cause uterine cancer.
In this post, we will look at the allegations in this in this suit, including the scientific evidence on causation. Our attorneys also discuss the likelihood of more hair-relaxer lawsuits and what the potential per person settlement amounts for a chemical hair straightener lawsuit be.
Hair Relaxer Products
Hair relaxers are a group of cosmetic products primarily used by African American women to relax, flatten and straighten their hair.
All hair, regardless of ethnic origin, shares common characteristics in its chemical makeup and molecular structure. The hair shaft, lying in the center and growing up through the follicle, emerges from the scalp as threadlike structures. These hair fibers are each composed of three distinct regions: the cuticle and the outermost area consisting of lamellar layers of structural tissue. The cortex, the inner area comprising the bulk of the fiber, and the medulla (the innermost area lying at the center of the fiber).
High PH Systems
Hair relaxers are high-pH systems containing a strong alkali and are formulated as thick cream emulsions. Chemical hair relaxers are applied to the base of the hair and left in place for a “cooking” interval. The bonds found in the hair are located within the keratin proteins. The most important type of bond found in the hair is the disulfide bond, also known as the cysteine bond.
Keratin is very sensitive to increases or decreases in the hydrogen ion concentration (or pH) of its environment. Although it is relatively resistant to the action of acids, keratin can be broken down by high-pH alkali solutions. This property is precisely what is exploited during relaxing.
How Hair Relaxers Work
The chemicals in hair relaxers are applied to the base of the hair shaft. After the marination period, the hair relaxer changes the hair’s texture by compromising the hair’s protein structure. The effect of this protein damage straightens and smooths the hair.
After a period of weeks (4 – 8 weeks on average), depending on the hair’s natural growth rate, the treated portion of the hair grows away from the scalp as new growth sprouts from the roots, requiring additional relaxer treatment to smooth the roots.
These additional treatments are colloquially referred to in the community as “re-touches”, resulting in women relaxing their new growth every four to eight weeks on average, usually for decades.
The application loosens the hair’s tight curls and removes its kinkiness through a chemical reaction that breaks the disulfide bonds in the hair. This potent mix of chemicals in the products attacks the hair’s protein structure, causing it to flatten.
EDCs and Phthalates in Hair Relaxers
As the Complaint in the Mitchell case underscores, hair relaxer products are known to contain very high levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (“EDCs”). EDCs are chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system and interfere with hormone receptors. EDCs are present in hair products under the guise of “fragrance” and “perfumes,” and thus enter the body when these products are exogenously applied to the hair and scalp. Phthalates, estrogens, and parabens are the EDCs typically found in hair products.
EDCs can act directly on hormone receptors, on proteins that control hormone delivery, or disrupt the endocrine system in various ways. EDCs can cause the body to operate as if there were a proliferation of a hormone, resulting in over-responding to a stimulus or responding when it was not supposed to by mimicking a natural hormone. They can increase or decrease hormone levels by affecting the production, degradation, and storage of hormones, and can block hormone stimuli by inducing epigenetic changes, altering the structure of target cells’ receptors, or modifying DNA that regulates gene expression.
Exposure to EDCs is linked to numerous adverse health outcomes such as endometriosis, impaired sperm quality, abnormalities in reproductive organs, various cancers, altered nervous system and immune function, respiratory problems, metabolic issues, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, growth, and neurological and learning disabilities. Specifically, EDCs have the potential to cause several hormone-dependent cancers, including ovarian cancer.
Black women of reproductive age tend to have higher biomarkers of exposure to EDCs. No one could get their minds around the racial disparities in women’s health outcomes when it came to fibroids, endometriosis, and uterine cancer. But now it is starting to make more sense.
The other problematic chemical in hair relaxers is phthalates. Phthalates, often called “plasticizers,” are chemicals used to help make certain plastics more durable. Phthalates are commonly used in a wide variety of various cosmetic products, including chemical hair relaxers. Phthalates are known to interfere with natural hormone production.
The hair relaxer products manufactured by the defendants all contained phthalates, including Di-2- ethyl hexyl phthalate (“DEHP”). DEHP is a highly toxic manufactured chemical. It is not found naturally in the environment.
DEHP is considered a carcinogen. It is known to cause significant adverse-health effects including endometriosis, developmental abnormalities, reproductive dysfunction and infertility, and various cancers.
Other chemicals in hair straightening products include formaldehyde and parabens. Which of these toxins in hair relaxers most contribute to causing cancer? We are still figuring that out.
Why use these chemicals in hair relaxers if they can cause such harm? It works and it is cheap. Every Dark & Lovely lawsuit and other hair relaxer lawsuits will allege the manufacturer knew of the risks. Yet they did nothing to prevent these women from getting cancer because it was cheaper and easier to use cancer-causing chemicals. If this is the evidence that a jury hears at trial, you will see large jury payouts that will ultimately lead to a significant class action hair relaxer settlement.
- New Hair Relaxers Lawsuit Video
- The Dark & Lovely hair relaxer suit filed against L’Oreal in Mitchell
Lack of Federal Oversight Over These Chemicals
Making matters worse, the government provides little control over chemicals used for perms and hair straighteners. Yes, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act requires an ingredient declaration on cosmetic products. But the FDA is not minding the store. Compounding the problem, there is no law requiring the listing of the individual fragrance or flavors, or ingredients. So potentially cancer-causing phthalates are not listed as long as they are combined with a fragrance. It is ridiculous and hair relaxer lawsuits might be a catalyst for a change in the law. Until then, consumers do not know the ingredient declaration if phthalates are in the product they are using.
There are two different types of uterine cancer: endometrial and sarcoma. Endometrial uterine cancer is much more common and more treatable. The sarcoma type of uterine cancer is less common, but it is much more aggressive and difficult to treat.
Uterine cancer is a relatively common type of cancer. Around 65,000 new cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S. This equates to around 3.5% of all new cancer cases annually. Around 12,500 women died from uterine cancer each year, which accounts for about 2% of cancer-related deaths.
The overall 5-year survival rate for uterine cancer is comparatively high at 81%. However, the sarcoma type of uterine cancer is much more aggressive and has a lower survival rate.
Uterine cancer has long been assumed to be caused by phthalate metabolites found in hair perms and relaxer products.
The hair relaxer uterine cancer lawsuit in Mitchell alleges that “uterine cancer is associated with phthalate metabolites found in hair care products.” Uterine cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer in women. The incidence rate of uterine cancer in black women is twice that of white women in the United States.
The Complaint cites a significant medical study that recently found that women who used chemical hair relaxer products have a higher risk of contracting uterine cancer. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October 2022. The study found that an estimated 1.64% of women who never used chemical hair straighteners or relaxers would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70.
Here is the key statistic that makes you stop in your tracks: for frequent users, that risk more than doubles, increasing to 4.05%.
Hair Relaxer and Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is comparatively rare with only 20,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. This is less than 1% of all cancer cases. The 5-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is only 47%, which is much lower than uterine and breast cancer. The biggest reason for this low survivability rate is that ovarian cancer typically has no symptoms in its early stages and there is no simple way to monitor it. As a result, most ovarian cancer cases are not diagnosed until they have reached more advanced stages at which point the cancer has already spread and is less treatable. This is mostly because ovarian cancer has very few symptoms in its earlier phases and is usually
There is solid scientific evidence linking chemical hair relaxers to higher rates of ovarian cancer. The source of this evidence is Sister Study being conducted at NIH. The NIH research team published an article in a medical journal in October 2021 reporting that the study data showed an association between the use of chemical hair relaxers and higher rates of ovarian cancer. The Sister Study indicated that women who used hair relaxer products 4 times per year or more had a 50% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- See if you qualify for a hair relaxer lawsuit.
Do Hair Perms Also Have Uterine Cancer and Other Risks?
Getting a hair perm may expose you to the same risks as you would using a hair relaxer. Why? Because many of the same cancer-causing toxins in hair chemicals are used during hair smoothing treatments at the salon. So may also see hair perm lawsuits flowing from this litigation.
Is There a Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit?
There is not a hair relaxer class action lawsuit as of January 2023. But there was a hearing on whether there will be a federal hair relaxer class action lawsuit on January 27, 2023 We are awaiting the court’s ruling.
So right now, our lawyers are looking at these as individual hair relaxer lawsuits, not a class action. But given the volume of new cases our law firm has been getting, a class action for hair relaxer victims already seems inevitable.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Hair Relaxer Lawsuits?
Is it too late to file a hair relaxer lawsuit? The answer will depend on the applicable statute of limitations in your state. A statute of limitations is a legal deadline on how long plaintiffs have to file a case. If plaintiffs do not get their case filed before the statute of limitations deadline, their claim will be barred and they will never be able to sue.
Each state has its own unique statute of limitations for personal injury cases like hair relaxer lawsuits. The length of the deadline to file a hair relaxer lawsuit varies by state. (Lookup the statute of limitations in all 50 States) If you are thinking about filing a hair relaxer lawsuit, what matter is not how long the limitation period is, but when that SOL period starts to run.
In most states, the start date for the statute of limitations is based on the application of the “discovery rule.” Under this common law rule, the statute of limitations period does not begin to run until the plaintiff knows (or reasonably should know) that they have a potential lawsuit.
The example below will help illustrate how the discovery rule might apply to a typical hair relaxer case:
Jane was diagnosed with uterine cancer 7 years ago. She has used chemical hair relaxer products regularly since she was 15. Jane recently heard from a friend that hair relaxers might cause uterine cancer and that people are filing lawsuits against the cosmetic companies that make these products. Jane’s state has a 2-year statute of limitations on injury claims. It has been more than 2 years since Jane was diagnosed with uterine cancer, but her state follows the discovery rule. Under the discovery rule, the 2-year SOL on Jane’s lawsuit does not begin to run until October 2022, which is when the study linking hair relaxers to uterine cancer was first published. Before that date, Jane had no way of reasonably discovering that she had a claim because there was no published evidence linking hair relaxer to cancer.
Unfortunately, the result in our example above might be different in some states. A minority of states have declined to follow the discovery rule and hold that the SOL period begins to run from the date of the plaintiff’s injury. In Jane’s case that would be when she was diagnosed with cancer 7 years ago. Some states have a law called a “statute of repose” which puts a maximum time limit (usually 7-12 years) on bringing a claim regardless of whether the discovery rule applies or not.
Potential Settlement Amounts for Hair Relaxer Uterine Cancer Lawsuits
It is very premature to speculate on how much hair relaxer uterine cancer lawsuits could be worth at trial or in a settlement. The case filed by Jenny Mitchell this week is the first product liability lawsuit claiming hair relaxer caused cancer. We still don’t know whether the scientific causation evidence in these cases will hold up in court. But the scientific evidence our lawyers have reviewed looks unbelievably strong which is why you are seeing so many lawyers putting up television commercials for victims with uterine cancer or other injuries who are looking to bring a hair relaxer lawsuit.
With the caveat that it is early in the hair straightener litigation, we can still speculate on the likely settlement amounts of these cases. If we assume that the causation evidence linking chemicals in hair relaxer to uterine cancer is adequate, our lawyers believe that a strong uterine cancer case could have a potential settlement payout between $300,000 to $1,750,000. Cases involving particularly young plaintiffs (such as Jenny Mitchell) could be worth significantly more since uterine cancer typically results in permanent infertility.
Settlement payout will also be a function of the defendants in individual claims. L’Oréal has plenty of money to pay fair settlement amounts and jury payouts. But some of these smaller companies will likely have issues paying out fair settlement value for these claims.
How Would a Hair Relaxer Settlement Work?
A hair relaxer settlement will be complicated becasue there are many different defendants with different levels of culpability. But the most likely scenario is settlements with individual attorneys with a settlement system based on points to distribute the funds equitably among the victims. Such a system would operate on objective criteria, ensuring that victims in similar circumstances receive similar settlements. Utilization of a points-based system is a widely recognized and accepted approach for distributing settlement money among claimants in collective compensation deals.
Uterine Cancer Settlements and Verdicts
Below are summaries of settlements and verdicts from prior cases in which uterine cancer was the primary injury. This might give us a lens to settlement amounts and jury payouts for a hair relaxer or hair perm lawsuit. These are not product liability lawsuits. They are medical malpractice cases in which the plaintiffs are alleging that the doctor negligently failed to diagnose uterine cancer.
- $1,800,000 Settlement (Illinois 2020): failure to diagnose uterine cancer in a 41-year-old plaintiff from Chicago resulted in a 4-year delay in treatment allowing cancer to progress. There is a big difference between a delay in diagnosing cancer and causing cancer from a jury’s perspective. And… a doctor who makes an innocent mistake is also a more sympathetic defendant that a company that put toxic chemicals in their product without telling anyone.
- $500,000 Settlement (Washington 2018): failure to diagnose due to poor communication resulting in a 5-month delay of uterine cancer in a 71-year-old plaintiff with a prior history of cancer.
- $600,000 Settlement (New York 2015): failure to send an ultrasound report caused a delay in the diagnosis of uterine cancer in a 35-year-old woman. Despite the young age of the plaintiff, the settlement amount is likely lower because she did not plan on having more children.
- $430,000 Settlement (Minnesota 2014): doctor settled the case for allegedly failing to diagnose uterine cancer in a 60-year-old patient resulting in a 2-year delay and progression of cancer to stage 3C.
- $1,750,000 Settlement (Massachusetts 2013): failure to diagnose uterine cancer in 52-year-old plaintiff resulting in the spread of cancer to lungs and progression to the terminal stage.
There are different issues in these lawsuits – mostly medical malpractice – that you would see in a hair straightener lawsuit against L’Oréal or another one of these defendants. But malpractice cases are often hard to prove. If these claims are strong, the harm is serious and the settlement amount could be very high.
Contact Us About Filing a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit
Our firm is currently investigating product liability cases alleging that chemicals in hair perm and hair relaxer products cause uterine cancer. If you were diagnosed with uterine cancer after years of regularly using a chemical hair straightener, contact our office today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.