L’Oreal Hair Relaxer Lawsuit | July 2024 Update

A recent scientific study by the National Institute of Health established a causal relationship between the consistent use of chemical hair relaxers and increased uterine cancer risk. The study indicates that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in hair relaxers can seep into the scalp, cause hormone imbalance, and increase the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers.

Reproductive cancers such as uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and cervical cancer are all hormone-sensitive cancers. The link between hair relaxers and cancer continues to be established in study after study.

L'Oreal, one of the world's biggest hair care product manufacturers, has several products, such as Soft Sheen Carson Optimum and Dark & Lovely, that contain dangerous EDCs that can increase the risk of developing uterine cancer.

This large corporation has been named as a defendant in thousands of L'Oreal hair relaxer lawsuits for failing to warn consumers about the hazardous chemicals in these hair relaxer products that could cause hormone-sensitive cancers.

There is a strong causal link between L'Oreal hair products such as Dark and Lovely and cancer based on a growing body of scientific evidence linking the chemicals in hair relaxers and uterine cancer.

L’Oreal Hair Relaxer Attorney, Matt Dolman

Don't wait any longer, call 866-535-9515 or submit your case for review today!

L’Oreal Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Table Of Contents

L'Oreal Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update

At Lawsuit Legal News, we aim to keep this page as the most definitive and current update on hair relaxer cancer lawsuits and their status as they progress in Federal Court.

July 2, 2024 - More Cases Are Filed And Consolidated into Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)

Recent data reveals more than 8,334 active lawsuits currently consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) under the supervision of the Northern District of Illinois.

The goal of this consolidation is twofold: to enhance the efficiency of the legal proceedings and to promote consistency in judicial decisions across similar cases.

By bringing these cases together under one jurisdiction, the court system aims to streamline the handling of evidence, reduce redundant legal work, and provide a more uniform approach to addressing the complex issues involved in these lawsuits.

This approach can lead to faster resolutions and more equitable outcomes for all parties involved.

As this legal process continues to evolve, it remains a focal point for those affected by the issues at the heart of these lawsuits and for hair straightener lawyers monitoring the developments of ongoing lawsuits.

January 2, 2024 - Over 8,000 Cases Filed in the Hair Relaxer Lawsuit MDL

Over 8,000 chemical hair straightener lawsuits are in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois before Judge Mary M. Rowland. At the same time, we have seen a significant uptick in advertising by hair relaxer lawyers focusing on cancers caused by hair relaxer products.

The general public—and more specifically, black women—are learning that they may have a legal claim against defendants such as L'Oreal USA (the parent company of L'oreal).

The plaintiffs allege that L'Oreal has sold products such as Dark & Lovely and Soft Sheen Carson Optimum without providing a warning on the product label that exposure to chemical relaxers is linked to cancer and other health issues. 

We anticipate that by the end of 2024, there will be over 25,000 individual plaintiffs in the ongoing hair relaxer litigation in the U.S. District Court. This is currently the fastest-growing mass tort in the United States. 

A newly published peer-reviewed cohort study entitled Black Women's Healthy Study found long-term use of chemical hair straighteners is linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer. This was perhaps the largest cohort study of black women, where researchers tracked the medical records of just under 45,000 women between 1997 and 2019.

More specifically, the authors of this study found that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (endocrine disruptors) such as phthalates, parabens, and diethylstilbestrol (DES) are linked to cancer. Previous studies showed significantly raised levels of phthalates and paragons in the urine samples of women who regularly used (defined as three times a year) chemical relaxer products. Several studies have linked endocrine disruptors to adverse events, including several reproductive health outcomes.

December 1, 2023 - Plaintiff Steering Committee Petitions Court for a Common Benefit Fund

A request has been submitted to Judge Rowland, requesting a common benefit fund at an 11% rate. This means all lawsuits in the hair relaxer MDL would see 11% of attorney fees directed into a fund to pay the lawyers participating in this litigation.

This is admittedly an outrageous request, and based on previous mass tort cases, we expect and support Judge Rowland limiting this percentage to 6-7%. The purpose of a common benefit fee is to compensate lawyers performing MDL work and the common benefit they provide lawyers who are not participating in the litigation itself but will benefit from discovery and research performed by participating attorneys.

November 14, 2023 - Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Federal Hair Relaxer Lawsuits Based on Preemption is Denied!

Judge Rowland has denied L'Oreal's motion to dismiss all pending chemical hair straightener lawsuits, stating that the defendants failed to meet their burden of proof. L'Oreal argued that the plaintiff's state law claims are preempted by federal law.

Further, Judge Rowland ruled that the plaintiff's motion for punitive damages survives for now.

This is huge news. The plaintiffs have survived one of the two biggest hurdles associated with MDLs.

The second biggest hurdle will be a Daubert Hearing, which could be a year to eighteen months away. At a Daubert Hearing, each party has the ability to examine the expert testimony and evidence proposed by the adverse party.

The party seeking to admit the expert testimony bears the burden to prove that the expert's findings are based on reliable scientific methodologies and that the expert possesses the requisite level of knowledge and expertise to testify about their findings.

Assuming the plaintiffs prevail in the Daubert Hearing, several hair relaxer cancer cases will be selected for trial. These are known as bellwether trials, enabling both plaintiff and defense counsel to get an idea of how juries will evaluate their scientific evidence and the size of potential jury verdicts.

Bellwether trials usually serve to shape overall settlements in mass torts. However, we are a few years away from a hair relaxer settlement.

October 15, 2023 - Judge Rowland Rules in Favor of Plaintiffs in Discovery Dispute

Judge Mary Rowland overruled discovery objections filed by defendants, including L'Oreal. The judge also set a new deadline of November 23, 2023, for defendants to respond to discovery requests filed by plaintiffs' lawyers in the hair relaxer MDL.

August 16, 2023 - Short Form Complaint Approved for Hair Straightener Lawsuits

A short-form complaint is a simplified complaint that gives plaintiffs a streamlined and easy process for filing lawsuits into the MDL. Further, it enables plaintiffs to pick specific allegations and claims contained in the master complaint. We now have over 6,000 lawsuits filed into the MDL, with a significant portion naming L'Oreal's Dark and Lovely as the product that caused the plaintiff's uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, or endometrial cancer.

Boxes of Dark and Lovely Hair Relaxer made by L'Oreal on a Shelf in reference to the L'Oreal Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

July 15, 2023 - Defendants Make Cowardly Attempt to Delay Hair Relaxer Uterine Cancer Claims

Defendants such as L'Oreal have asked Judge Rowland to divide the pre-trial discovery process. More specifically, they have asked the Court to focus specifically on general causation issues to the exclusion of all other evidence discovery. Defendants want to focus discovery solely on whether the use of chemical hair relaxers causes uterine cancer (along with other reproductive cancers such as cervical cancer and ovarian cancer).

The plaintiffs' lawyers vehemently oppose this request, as it would potentially delay litigation for years. Several other discovery matters would simply sit idle while the Court ferrets out general causation. 

We believe Judge Rowland will deny the defendant's motion to avoid delaying the litigation process. 

June 4, 2023 - Both Parties Must File Briefs Outlining Their Causation Theories

Judge Rowland previously set a deadline of June 5, 2023, to explain and illustrate whether exposure to hair-relaxing products can ultimately cause uterine cancer, cervical cancer, and ovarian cancer. We believe that the publication of the "Sister Study" (discussed below) will serve as ammunition for the plaintiffs to prove use of chemical hair straighteners such as Dark & Lovely causes uterine cancer. 

June 1, 2023 - Master Complaint Approved

Judge Rowland has approved an approximately 400-page master complaint that thoroughly outlines the plaintiffs' common allegations and claims. 

February 8, 2023 - Hair Straightener Cancer MDL is Established 

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has consolidated all hair relaxer lawsuits filed in various Federal district courts nationwide. The lawsuits have been consolidated before Judge Mary Rowland in the Northern District of Illinois. In turn, the hair straightener class action lawsuits have evolved into multidistrict litigation (MDL).

Study Connects Consistent Hair Relaxer Use to Increased Uterine Cancer Risk 

The basis for many L'Oreal hair relaxer lawsuits is a National Institute of Health (NIH) study released in October 2022.

The NIH study assessed data from the Sister Study, a separate study conducted by an NIH subsidiary that sought to find a connection between hair care product use and harmful health conditions. For eleven years, women aged between 35 and 74 answered a questionnaire regarding their hair care product use and health conditions.

The National Institute of Health study used the data of 33,497 women involved in the Sister Study, finding that using hair relaxers at least four times a year could increase the risk of uterine cancer. There were 378 cases of uterine cancer reported during the eleven-year study. 

According to Alexandra White, Ph.D., the lead author of this new study, consistent hair straightener use could double a woman’s risk of a uterine cancer diagnosis. “We estimated that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70; but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05%.”

Hair Relaxers Contain Harmful Chemicals That Can Cause Cancer

Hair relaxers, such as those manufactured by L’Oreal, contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). When they enter the body through scalp absorption after applying chemical hair straighteners, they can affect the functioning of the endocrine system.

This system controls the body’s production of hormones, meaning EDCs can affect the body's hormone levels. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals in hair relaxers can trick the body into thinking they are hormones, block the functionality of hormones in the body, or change the body’s sensitivity to hormones.

The following are some of the EDCs contained in hair relaxers:

  • Phthalates
  • Parabens 
  • Bisphenol A
  • Formaldehyde
  • Metals
  • Cyclosiloxanes
  • Diethanolamine
  • Triclosan
  • Sodium hydroxide

EDCs in Hair Relaxers Can Cause Adverse Health Conditions

Exposure to EDCs through the consistent use of hair relaxers can cause adverse health conditions, such as uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cancer. These chemicals have a carcinogenic effect, meaning constant exposure can cause cancer. Make no mistake about it: EDCs are nothing short of toxic chemicals. The scientific community can no longer ignore the health risks and risk of cancer associated with exposure to endocrine disruptors.

Animal and human testing has found that formaldehyde can increase a person’s cancer risk after exposure. Parabens, a preservative in chemical hair relaxers, are currently being investigated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for possibly being carcinogenic. The consistent use of chemical hair relaxers can increase the body’s level of metals, which can cause cancer by mutating healthy cells.

Uterine Cancer May Be Caused by L'Oreal Hair Relaxer Use

The most common type of hormone-sensitive cancer caused by chemical hair relaxer use is uterine cancer. This type of cancer involves the cells in the uterus mutating and becoming cancerous. 

There are two main forms of uterine cancer: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. The difference between them comes down to where cancer develops in the uterus. Endometrial cancer occurs when cancer develops in the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium), whereas uterine sarcoma occurs when cancer develops in the muscle wall of the uterus (myometrium). Uterine cancer is a life-altering type of cancer that can cause symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, thin white or clear vaginal discharge, and pelvic and abdominal pain.

Hair Relaxer Use Can Cause Uterine Fibroids

Another health condition caused by consistent hair relaxer usage is uterine fibroids, which are muscular tumors that can appear in the uterus. An American Journal of Epidemiology published a study in 2012 that drew a connection between the use of hair relaxers and the development of uterine fibroids.

These tumors are not cancerous, but they can still cause tremendous pain. They can grow to the size of a watermelon and cause significant symptoms like bloating, lower back pain, heavy bleeding, and constipation. 

To prevent uterine fibroids from reoccurring and causing more pain, most women have to get a hysterectomy, which is a surgical procedure that removes part or all of the uterus.

Although this procedure may be necessary, it can result in a woman no longer being able to become pregnant. It may also require the removal of the ovaries, which can cause a woman to enter the menopause phase prematurely.

Ovarian Cancer Could Be Caused by L'Oreal Hair Relaxers

The EDCs in chemical hair relaxers can also cause ovarian cancer, which is cancer that begins in the reproductive system in one of the two ovaries. They are located on either side of the uterus and are responsible for creating and storing eggs. Ovarian cancer from chemical hair straightener use can occur due to EDC exposure or uterine cancer spreading to the ovaries.

Ovarian cancer has a lack of obvious symptoms and warning signs, meaning the health condition can become severe before someone knows they have it. Treatment of a severe case of ovarian cancer could require surgery to remove an ovary or ovaries, as well as chemotherapy.

Are Black Women at an Increased Risk of Uterine Cancer from Hair Relaxer Use?

Black women made up the bulk of the women involved in the NIH study who reported using chemical hair relaxers. Despite only making up 7.4% of the women in the study, 59.9% of chemical hair relaxer users were black women. Due to the prevalence of chemical hair relaxer usage, black women are at an increased risk of suffering hormone-sensitive cancer. 

Black women make up the primary demographic of hair relaxer users because the product gives them the ability to adhere to Eurocentric beauty standards. According to a 2020 Michigan State study, 80% of black women altered their hair to adhere to beauty standards because they felt it would reduce the risk of discrimination. Despite how it could help socially and with their career, the increased usage of hair relaxers from an early age can expose black women to a greater risk of hormone-sensitive cancers.

Photo of a Black woman having hair relaxer chemical applied to her hair - Lawsuit Legal News

L’Oreal is One of the Largest Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Defendants

Women have filed hair relaxer lawsuits to hold manufacturers accountable for failing to warn consumers of the possible carcinogenic effects of using hair relaxers consistently. The most notable manufacturer of hair relaxers named in hair relaxer lawsuits is L’Oreal, the biggest cosmetic company in the world.

L’Oreal manufactures two products that have been named in hair relaxer lawsuits: SoftSheen-Carson Optimum and Dark & Lovely. SoftSheen-Carson is a subsidiary of L’Oreal, and its Optimum brand of hair relaxers has been named in hair relaxer lawsuits.

Dark & Lovely has been a leading brand of hair relaxers since L’Oreal purchased it in 1998. Women who have used these products and experienced hormone-sensitive cancers have filed hair relaxer lawsuits to hold L’Oreal accountable for failing to warn of the carcinogenic effects of the hair relaxers.

The First Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Naming L’Oreal as a Defendant Was Filed in October 2022

The first lawsuit filed with L’Oreal as a hair relaxer defendant occurred in October 2022, just days after the release of the National Institute of Health study. The plaintiff, 28-year-old Jenny Mitchell, alleged that her 2018 uterine cancer diagnosis was caused by the regular use of L’Oreal products since 2000. She had prolonged exposure to phthalates and other EDCs that caused uterine cancer.

Jenny Mitchell’s uterine cancer diagnosis forced her to undergo a hysterectomy, which ended her chances of becoming pregnant. She seeks unspecified monetary damages and payment for medical monitoring. Since Jenny Mitchell’s initial lawsuit, L’Oreal has been named as the defendant in over 40 hair relaxer lawsuits.

Did L’Oreal Know Their Hair Relaxer Products Contained Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals?

Part of Jenny Mitchell’s lawsuit alleged that L’Oreal knew of the harmful effects of chemicals such as phthalates in their hair relaxers as early as 2015.

However, existing FDA regulations did not require approval before releasing the products to market, and they were not required to disclose this information to the public. Despite not needing to disclose the information, the fact that they knew their products contained dangerous chemicals allows them to be held accountable in hair relaxer lawsuits.

Hair Relaxer Lawsuits Fall Under Product Liability Law

The hair relaxer lawsuits filed with L’Oreal as a defendant fall under product liability law, which is meant to hold manufacturers accountable for defective or dangerous products. There are three types of product liability claims: ones that involve design defects, manufacturing defects, and a failure by the manufacturer to disclose the dangers involved with a product. L’Oreal can be held accountable in a product liability lawsuit for failing to warn consumers about the dangerous EDCs contained in their hair relaxers.

Can You Join the L'Oreal Hair Relaxer Lawsuit MDL?

The Lawsuit Legal News team can help you file a hair relaxer lawsuit with L’Oreal to pursue compensation for damages if you regularly used L’Oreal hair relaxers and were diagnosed with hormone-sensitive cancer. Previously, plaintiffs in these hair relaxer lawsuits filed a motion with the Judicial Panel of Multi-District Litigation (JPML) to consolidate hair relaxer lawsuits into one multi-district litigation (MDL). This allowed all hair relaxer lawsuits to be litigated in front of one judge, promoting consistency in discovery and increasing the chances of a global settlement.

Plaintiffs will greatly benefit from hair relaxer lawsuits consolidating because it will allow them to pool resources while still being able to recover compensation for their specific damages. The JPML heard oral arguments for hair relaxer consolidation on January 26th and agreed to create a hair relaxer lawsuit MDL.

What Damages are Available in a L’Oreal Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

The consistent use of L’Oreal hair relaxer products can cause economic and non-economic damages that are eligible for compensation in a hair relaxer lawsuit. Following a cancer diagnosis after hair relaxer use, you will likely have steep medical expenses that you need to pay, including hospitalization, surgery, and medication costs. Depending on the severity of your health condition, you may be unable to work to generate income. You could pursue compensation for these economic damages in a L'Oreal hair relaxer lawsuit.

A cancer diagnosis after the consistent use of hair relaxers might also cause a significant psychological impact. You may now have new worries about your health, possible necessary surgeries, and how your life will change. Depression and anxiety can set in, worsening your quality of life because of the effects of cancer. A product liability lawyer can help to calculate the value of hair relaxer damages by speaking to medical experts about your situation and considering current and future damages.

The following are some of the hair relaxer damages caused by L’Oreal hair relaxer products:

  • Medical expenses
  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Hospital stays
  • Lab tests
  • Imaging
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Job-related losses
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Missed promotions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Wrongful death
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of services and support
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Funeral and burial costs

How Can a Product Liability Lawyer Help With Your L’Oreal Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

Hiring a product liability lawyer is vital to your L’Oreal hair relaxer lawsuit. L’Oreal will have vast resources and a team of lawyers that can make pursuing compensation difficult, so it’s essential to have someone in your corner with experience to help with the hair relaxer lawsuit process. A skilled product liability attorney can:

  • Calculate your current and future hair relaxer damages
  • Explain your rights
  • Draft and send a demand letter to L’Oreal
  • Collect evidence to prove L’Oreal’s liability
  • Speak to expert witnesses
  • Keep you up-to-date on the potential hair relaxer MDL
  • Negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurer
  • Represent you in court

Product liability lawyers can provide you with essential skills and experience to help you hold manufacturers accountable for their negligence. L'Oreal owed you a duty of care, but they breached that duty by failing to provide proper labeling, causing you to suffer hormone-sensitive cancer through exposure to carcinogenic chemicals. Product liability lawyers can use their abilities and resources to put you in the best position to recover fair compensation for your hair relaxer damages.

Lawsuit Legal News works with a nationally recognized award-winning law firm. With over 150 years of combined legal experience, our talented lawyers have recovered over $500 million in compensation for victims of negligence.

The hair relaxer attorneys affiliated with Lawsuit Legal News offer a free consultation and case evaluation for women who have been diagnosed with cancer after using L'Oreal chemical hair straightener. Reach out today through our online contact form for a free evaluation of your case.

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