Hair Relaxer Manufacturers Oppose Centralization of Product Liability Lawsuits in MDL

Hair Relaxer Manufacturers Oppose Centralization of Product Liability Lawsuits in MDL

An increasing number of women across the U.S. have filed product liability lawsuits against the makers of chemical hair straighteners, such as L’Oreal, SoftSheen, Strength of Nature, House of Cheatham, and Namasté Laboratories after developing cancer from the toxins in their products. The plaintiffs have recently filed a motion with the court requesting that their claims be consolidated into a multidistrict litigation. This has drawn vocal objections from the makers of these hair care products.

The personal injury lawyers representing these women see this as an essential step to securing fair settlements for the injured parties. If you have been diagnosed with uterine cancer, breast cancer, uterine fibroids, or other issues related to exposure to chemical hair relaxers, you should consider seeking compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses like emotional distress.

Why Are Women Suing the Makers of Chemical Hair Relaxers? 

The threat that chemical hair relaxers present to public health is not new. Chemical hair relaxers had previously been connected to an increased risk of breast cancer in women who used them frequently. New studies have exposed a similar phenomenon with regard to uterine cancer. NIH researchers published an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that warned consumers, especially Black women, that using chemical hair relaxers 4 or more times a year doubled their risk of uterine cancer.

Essentially, women and girls who used these products were absorbing carcinogenic chemicals through their scalps every time they applied the relaxers to their hair. The chemicals in question are similar to estrogen, a hormone that helps regulate the female reproductive system. When the body absorbs these chemicals, it can’t differentiate between its own estrogen and the toxic chemical and processes it as a hormone imbalance. 

This can cause the unregulated growth of cancerous cells in tissues that are controlled by hormones, such as breast tissue or endometrial tissue. This finding was devastating for many women, especially those who had relied on these products to style their hair for decades.

Studies Find Repeated Use of Chemical Hair Straightners Can Lead to Cancer

The long-term use of chemical hair straighteners has been connected to several injuries and multiple types of cancer, including:

These conditions all occur within the female reproductive system and can have a significant impact on a woman’s fertility and general health. One of the first hair relaxer cancer claims is a perfect example of this. Jenny Mitchell, who had used chemical hair relaxers since she was a teenager, had to undergo a hysterectomy after she developed uterine cancer from these products. She was 28 at the time, and never got the opportunity to have biological children. 

In addition to compromising fertility, cancer treatment regimens are notoriously brutal on a person’s mental and physical health, leaving them susceptible to infections, mental health issues like depression, and other serious health conditions. This underscores the importance of holding these beauty companies accountable, as the costs to women who develop these types of cancer can be profound.

Hair Relaxer Lawsuits Affects Mostly Black Women - Lawsuit Legal News

What Does it Mean to Centralize the Hair Straightener Cancer Lawsuits?

The product liability lawsuits being brought against beauty companies have similar complaints of negligence and report similar injuries. In cases like this, the courts may consider requests to fold these similar claims into one group known as multidistrict litigation in order to conserve court resources. 

This group is overseen by one judge, even if the plaintiffs are geographically scattered, and the plaintiffs share the burden of the discovery process. A multidistrict litigation is distinguished from a class action in that it still allows for individual plaintiffs to be compensated according to their specific damages.

The Debate on Consolidating Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuits 

The beauty companies facing accusations of negligence object to the consolidation of the claims into a multidistrict litigation on several counts. First, they argue that there are too many companies named in one case, and the research linking chemical hair straighteners to cancer does not specify any specific products or manufacturers. They also state that there are not enough plaintiffs to justify an MDL. Finally, they argue that the claims that have been filed are too varied to fairly evaluate in a group.

Why Plaintiffs Want to Create an MDL for the Hair Straightener Lawsuits

On the other side, the women who have developed cancer as a result of using these defective hair care products are petitioning the court to consolidate their claims into a multidistrict litigation. They reason that their injuries are similar, they all find fault with the beauty companies' failure to warn them of the carcinogens in the products, and it would limit their individual burdens in discovery. Multi-million dollar companies have access to resources far beyond what the average person can accumulate, and this would help even the playing field. 

Seeking Compensation for Damages in a Chemical Hair Straightener Lawsuit

Unfortunately, cancer often has a high cost in terms of financial expenses as well as the patient’s physical and mental health. Plaintiffs in the hair relaxer cancer lawsuits will likely seek compensation to cover both economic and non-economic damages to offset these losses. Economic damages are meant to mitigate losses with set prices, while non-economic damages compensate plaintiffs for emotional or intangible losses.

Examples of Damages in a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit:

  • Medical expenses
    • Surgery
    • Medication
    • Chemo
    • Radiation
    • Hormone therapy
  • Job-related losses
    • Reduced earning capacity
    • Lost wages
    • Missed promotions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Wrongful death
    • Funeral and burial expenses
    • Loss of companionship
    • Loss of support and services

Liability in a Chemical Hair Straightener Lawsuit

The plaintiffs in these hair relaxer lawsuits allege that the makers of chemical hair relaxers, like L’Oreal and SoftSheen, were negligent in their duty to consumers. As makers of cosmetic products, these companies have a responsibility to abide by FDA standards and warn consumers of the risks they are taking on by using the product. Additionally, they had an obligation to thoroughly test their products to ensure that their design was carcinogen-free.

Instead, the makers of chemical hair straighteners actively marketed their carcinogenic products but failed to disclose the risk to consumers, or design a safe product in the first place. As a result, they may be held liable for the value of the plaintiff’s damages that resulted from injuries inflicted by their defective products.

We recommend reaching out to a qualified personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to avoid missing out on securing compensation for your hair relaxer injuries and damages. A product liability attorney will be able to help you determine what a hair relaxer lawsuit is worth in your individual situation. Our team is available for free consultations to assess the viability of your claim and how our services can help you secure the compensation you deserve.


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.

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