Hair Relaxer Plaintiffs Can Directly File Claims in the Federal Multidistrict Litigation

Hair Relaxer Plaintiffs Can Directly File Claims in the Federal Multidistrict Litigation

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois is now allowing plaintiffs in the many chemical hair relaxer lawsuits to directly file claims under this jurisdiction in order to facilitate the claims process. U.S. District Judge Mary M. Rowland is currently in charge of a complex multidistrict litigation that represents about 100 women who claim that chemical hair relaxers contain carcinogens that have led to their reproductive health issues, such as uterine cancer. Plaintiffs claim that the makers of chemical hair relaxers should be liable for their damages because they failed to eliminate these toxins or provide a warning to consumers.

Women who have used chemical hair relaxers and developed cancer may be entitled to recover compensation if they can prove that chemical hair relaxer makers are liable for their damages. Those interested in filing a chemical hair relaxer lawsuit should contact a personal injury lawyer with a successful track record of negotiating product liability claims. A product liability lawyer will have the legal knowledge, negotiating skills, and resources to represent you effectively in a chemical hair relaxer lawsuit to maximize your compensation.

Courts Make an Effort to Streamline the Hair Relaxer Multidistrict Litigation

Instead of having a plaintiff go through the process of filing a product liability claim in their home jurisdiction, U.S. District Judge Rowland has made it possible for women who have been harmed by chemical hair relaxer makers’ negligence to directly file with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. That eliminates the time that they would have waited for their claims to be transferred to Judge Rowland’s jurisdiction since she is presiding over the chemical hair relaxer multidistrict litigation.

Other steps have been taken to expedite the claims process for this group of product liability lawsuits, given the number of plaintiffs involved, the severity of their injuries, and the limited resources of the judicial system. The most significant step was the consolidation of the claims into a multidistrict litigation. Representatives for both sides had the opportunity to present their perspectives to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which is in charge of deciding whether or not a group of claims merits consideration as a multidistrict litigation. 

Hair Relaxer Claims Consolidated Despite Defendants’ Objections

After a hearing in January 2023, the JPML condensed the claims into a multidistrict litigation and transferred them to U.S. District Judge Rowland. A multidistrict litigation is a mechanism that allows a court to consider a large number of plaintiffs with similar injuries and similar accusations against a defendant as a group. Lead counsel is then appointed to advocate on behalf of each side, which individual plaintiffs work with their specific personal injury attorney to document the value of their damages.

The defendants were against consolidating the hair relaxer cancer claims for a number of reasons. Primarily, they believed that the plaintiffs had presented insufficient evidence of specific carcinogenic chemicals, and no specific brands or products were identified in the studies they were using to support their claims. Additionally, the defendants had previously argued that there were not enough plaintiffs to justify a multidistrict litigation, but plaintiffs have continued to file claims against chemical hair relaxer manufacturers undermining this complaint.

Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit Defendants

The defendants include:

  • L’Oréal 
  • SoftSheen Carson
  • Strength of Nature
  • Dabur
  • Namaste Laboratories
  • Cantu Beauty
  • Godrej Consumer Goods

Studies Show Hair Relaxers Increase the Risk of Reproductive Cancer

A reputable study conducted by the National Health Institute has found evidence to support the theory that chemical hair relaxers are carcinogenic. Researchers used data from the Sister Study to examine the habits of over 30,000 women across the U.S. who already had a sister with breast cancer. Based on this analysis, they identified that women who treated their hair with chemical relaxers 4 or more times a year developed uterine cancer at more than twice the rate of women who didn’t use these products.

These findings are consistent with previous studies that identified chemical hair relaxers as carcinogenic.  In both cases, the culprit is likely endocrine-disrupting chemicals that interfere with a woman’s hormones and cause cancer. Every time a woman used a chemical hair relaxer, such as African Pride Olive Miracle, she was increasing her exposure to these chemicals through her scalp.

Injuries caused by hair relaxers include:

Researchers warned that Black women are likely at a higher risk due to their higher rates of use. Even when it is caught in its early stages, cancer of the reproductive system may necessitate a hysterectomy. This surgery involves removing the womb, or uterus, and it prevents a woman from carrying children. This can inflict significant emotional harm and burden a plaintiff with extensive economic damages.

Recovering Damages in a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit

The women pursuing product liability claims against chemical hair relaxer makers have suffered from a variety of damages as they have sought treatment and dealt with the emotional fallout of their cancer. As plaintiffs, they can pursue compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages can offer financial relief for monetary losses related to their injuries. 

However, for many women who have had to undergo brutal cancer treatments, sideline their careers, and lose the ability to have children, economic damages may not sufficiently reimburse them for the true magnitude of their losses. Non-economic damages acknowledge the emotional and intangible costs of injury, such as pain and suffering.

Examples of Damages in a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit:

  • Medical bills
  • Job-related losses
    • Lost wages
    • Reduced earning capacity
    • Missed promotions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death
    • Funeral and burial expenses
    • Loss of services and support
    • Loss of parental guidance and instruction

Consider Contacting a Hair Relaxer Lawyer About Your Case

To avoid missing the deadline to file a claim for damages you should schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you can. A product liability lawyer will be able to help calculate what your settlement is worth, document your damages, and establish the chemical hair relaxer makers’ liability.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

Learn More

Latest News