Hair Relaxer MDL Judge Creates Plaintiff Leadership Development Committee

Hair Relaxer MDL Judge Creates Plaintiff Leadership Development Committee

The makers of chemical hair relaxers are facing about 100 claims of negligence from women who say that their products contained carcinogens and lacked a proper warning label. Women have suffered from rare and aggressive forms of reproductive cancer as a result of frequently using these defective products, and they are demanding compensation for their damages. 

The chemical hair relaxer lawsuits were based on common facts and the plaintiffs claimed similar injuries, so the claims have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation overseen by U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland. In addition to presiding over these product liability claims, District Judge Rowland has also taken the opportunity to build skills among the younger attorneys involved in the multidistrict litigation by creating a Leadership Development Committee. 

Even though the hair relaxer cancer lawsuits are being considered as a multidistrict litigation, plaintiffs should still secure their own product liability lawyer to advocate for the compensation they need. Having a qualified chemical hair relaxer cancer attorney represent you is instrumental in ensuring that your compensation is maximized, as they will have the necessary skills to establish liability, connect your injuries to your damages, and negotiate for what your settlement is worth.

Understanding the Chemical Hair Relaxer Multidistrict Litigation

Earlier this year, a hearing was conducted to ascertain whether or not the chemical hair relaxer lawsuits should be considered as a multidistrict litigation. The chemical hair relaxer plaintiffs stood to benefit from joining forces, but the defendants opposed the MDL because they claimed the scientific evidence available was inadequate. Plaintiffs waited while the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation evaluated their petition. 

Once the JPML decided to proceed with a multidistrict litigation, District Judge Rowland established a hierarchy by appointing lead counsel for both plaintiffs and defendants. Lead counsel will be expected to coordinate with their respective sides and each other to streamline communication amongst all parties. District Judge Rowland has also created a Defendants Liaison Counsel to function as an intermediary between the representatives of the defendants and the court.

Most recently, Judge Rowland ordered that plaintiffs in the hair relaxer claims can directly file a claim with the MDL. Otherwise, potential plaintiffs would have had to file their claim in their local jurisdiction and then wait for it to be transferred to the federal multidistrict litigation. In the meantime, plaintiffs continue to file claims against the makers of chemical hair relaxers.

MDL Judge Established a Plaintiff Leadership Development Committee 

With the large number of plaintiffs involved in the chemical hair relaxer multidistrict litigation, there is a wide range of experience levels among the personal injury lawyers representing plaintiffs. District Judge Rowland has formed a Leadership Development Committee to provide a mentorship program for younger and less experienced lawyers. The goal is to familiarize them with the process and responsibilities of being a part of a multidistrict litigation. Twelve plaintiff lawyers will be assigned to the LDC for two years before a new group is rotated in. During this time, they will be assigned tasks that generally benefit all plaintiffs. 

Carcinogenic Chemicals Found in Chemical Hair Relaxers

In October 2022, the National Health Institute published an alarming study that noted the relationship between the frequent use of chemical hair relaxers and uterine cancer. This confirmed what other studies had previously demonstrated, which was that chemical hair relaxers contain damaging levels of toxic chemicals. These chemicals are known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals because they impede the regulation of hormones, specifically estrogen.

Elevated estrogen levels are known to cause cancer of the reproductive system, as well as issues like endometriosis. This risk is even higher for Black women, who tend to use chemical hair relaxers more frequently than other racial demographics. The most common chemical hair relaxer injuries reported in the MDL include:

Surgery to remove the uterus, also known as a hysterectomy, is one of the more common treatments for injuries caused by damaging chemical hair relaxers. This prevents a woman from having children. For many, this surgery carries significant emotional repercussions, in addition to the physical and financial consequences of any surgery.

Recovering Compensation for Damages in the Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuits

Women are pursuing compensation for both economic and non-economic damages in the chemical hair relaxer cancer lawsuits. Cancer treatment is notoriously expensive on its own, and many women undergoing therapy or surgery to treat their cancer are forced to make sacrifices like taking time off work, traveling significant distances to reach providers, and hiring outside help to care for their homes. All of these things have financial consequences, which can be compensated with economic damages. 

Additionally, women who lose the ability to have children may experience emotional distress, not to mention the pain and suffering associated with surgery or other cancer treatments. Intangible losses like these can be recognized as non-economic damages.

Examples of Damages in a Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuit:

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

To be eligible to file a claim, you must be able to demonstrate that your injuries are a result of the chemical hair relaxer makers’ negligence. Additionally, you must be able to show that the damages you want compensation for stemmed from the injuries you incurred. That means the plaintiffs have the responsibility of convincing fact-finders that using products such as African Pride Olive Miracle caused their cancer, which could have been avoided if the defendants had not been negligent by failing to provide warning labels.

Women who have sustained injuries to their reproductive system after repeatedly using chemical hair relaxers should begin the process of filing a chemical hair relaxer lawsuit as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer with experience negotiating product liability claims will have the expertise needed to guide you through the claims process, handle administrative tasks, hold the defendants accountable for their negligence, and advocate for the maximum 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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