A new study from NIH found that using chemical hair relaxers such as Softsheen-Carson Optimum, can increase the risk of uterine cancer by 150%. The publication of this new evidence has led to hair relaxer lawsuits being filed against L’Oreal and its subsidiary SoftSheen-Caron. The plaintiffs filing these lawsuits are alleging that the chemicals in hair relaxer products like Optimum caused them to develop uterine cancer (or related conditions such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis).
In this post, we will discuss the new evidence on uterine cancer and hair relaxer and the allegations in the lawsuits against L’Oreal regarding its SoftSheen Carson product line.
About SoftSheen Carson Hair Relaxers
Hair relaxers or straighteners are cosmetic products widely used by African American women to force their otherwise curly hair to lay flat. Relaxer products work by using a strong mix of chemicals that break down the protein structures in hair follicles. An estimated 80% of Black women in the U.S. use these products.
SoftSheen Carson is one of the leading manufacturers of hair relaxer products. SoftSheen has two of the leading hair relaxer brands on the market: Optimum and Dark & Lovely. SoftSheen relaxer products are sold at all major retailers in the U.S., including Walmart, Walgreens, Amazon, and others.
Today, SoftSheen Carson is a single company which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the international cosmetic company L’Oreal. L’Oreal acquired Soft Sheen Products Inc. in 1998 and in 2000 it acquired Carson, Inc., both of which were leading players in the hair relaxer market. Following these acquisitions, L’Oreal combined the two separate companies into a single brand.
L’Oreal is the largest cosmetic company in the world. It has market capitalization of $189 billion, which makes it one of the biggest companies in the world. In 2021, L’Oreal posted total revenue of $32.2 billion and net income of $4.6 billion.
New Study Links Hair Relaxer Use to Uterine Cancer
Over the last decade, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been conducting a comprehensive study know as the Sister Study. The Sister Study findings were published on October 17, 2022 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The study followed 33,947 women aged 35 to 74 for a period of 11 years.
The Sister Study found that women who reported using hair relaxers, such as SoftSheen Carson products, at least 4 times per year showed a 150% increased risk of developing uterine cancer.
SoftSheen Carson Lawsuits
The publication of the NIH Sister Study almost immediately led to the filing of product liability lawsuits against SoftSheen Carson and L’Oreal. The plaintiffs filing these hair relaxer lawsuits were women who used relaxer products for years and subsequently developed uterine cancer or other conditions such as uterine fibroids, or endometriosis. The plaintiffs allege that their cancer or other health conditions were caused by exposure to the chemicals in the hair relaxer products.
The hair relaxer lawsuits contend that companies like SoftSheen Carson and L’Oreal knew or should have known that their products could increase the risk of uterine cancer (and other conditions) but failed to warn consumers about that risk. Instead, these companies marketed their products as safe for regular use.
A group of hair relaxer plaintiffs have already filed a motion with the JPML requesting consolidation of all hair relaxer product liability cases in federal courts into a new class action MDL. The defendants, led by L’Oreal, filed a response opposing the request for consolidation, but the MDL request will most likely be granted anyway. The plaintiffs are asking for the MDL to be created in the Northern District of Illinois. The defendants prefer the Southern District of New York.
Potential Settlement Value of SoftSheen Lawsuits
Our hair relaxer lawyers estimate that a successful SoftSheen lawsuit involving uterine cancer could have a potential settlement payout range of $300,000 to $1.75 million. This is a wide estimated value range mainly because uterine cancer cases can present drastically different pictures depending on the circumstances. Specifically, uterine cancer cases in older, post-menopausal women, are going to have a much lower value compared to uterine cancer cases involving younger plaintiffs who are still in their reproductive years. This is because treatment for uterine cancer often leaves them unable to have children and the cancer itself tends to be more aggressive in younger women.
SoftSheen lawsuits involving other types of primary injuries, such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis, will have much lower potential settlement value. There are 2 basic reasons why these cases will be worth less. First, the causation evidence linking these injuries to hair relaxers is less compelling. Second, these health conditions are not as serious as uterine cancer, which reduces their potential settlement value.
Contact Us About Filing a ShoftSheen Optimum Lawsuit
Our firm is currently investigating product liability cases alleging that chemicals in SoftSheen hair relaxers cause uterine cancer, breast cancer and other conditions. If you think you qualify for a lawsuit involving chemical hair straightener, contact our office today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.