The chemical hair relaxer multidistrict litigation filed against companies like L’Oreal has continued to progress, despite the defendants’ claims that their hair care products are not responsible for the plaintiffs’ health issues, including multiple types of cancer. Most recently, District Judge Mary Rowland has named Ben Crump, Diandra "Fu" Debrosse Zimmermann, Fidelma Fitzpatrick, and Michael London as lead counsel for the group of women who have filed these chemical hair relaxer lawsuits.
Although District Judge Rowland has appointed lead counsel to advocate for the plaintiffs’ position, individual plaintiffs still need to hire their own product liability attorney. Your chemical hair relaxer attorney will be responsible for ensuring that your specific damages are compensated properly in the multidistrict litigation. A product liability attorney is the most qualified person to advocate for your interests, secure evidence to support your claim, and protect your right to seek damages.
Understanding the Chemical Hair Relaxer Multidistrict Litigation
As of right now, about 75 product liability claims have been filed against the makers of chemical hair relaxers. The plaintiffs alleged that the repeated use of these products has caused reproductive health issues, including cancer. The women who have filed these claims are accusing multiple beauty companies of negligence for their failure to provide warning labels on their products and create products that are free of carcinogens.
Plaintiffs supported consolidation into a multidistrict litigation, which would allow them to collaborate during the discovery and pre-trial processes. Additionally, they would still be able to recover compensation that reflected their personal damages. On the other hand, the defendants argued against consolidating the claims into a multidistrict litigation. Their primary objection was that the studies plaintiffs were using to support their position failed to name which chemical hair relaxer companies or products the women who developed cancer used.
Multidistrict litigations are generally used to prevent an overload of court resources and standardize outcomes among plaintiffs who have sustained comparable injuries resulting from a defendant’s negligence. In this case, it was determined by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation that separating claims out based on exactly which products are used and evaluating them as individual cases would be virtually impossible and a logistical nightmare that would drain court resources.
Research Supports Plaintiffs’ Claims That Hair Relaxers Caused Their Cancer
This slew of product liability lawsuits was filed after a research study conducted by the NIH reaffirmed previous studies that showed frequent use of chemical hair relaxers increased the risk of several types of cancer and serious other health issues. The NIH study specifically found that women who used chemical hair relaxers to straighten their hair 4 or more times in a year were at twice the risk of developing uterine cancer. This builds on existing research that has linked frequent chemical hair relaxer usage to damage to the reproductive system.
Researchers attribute chemical hair relaxers’ cancer-causing tendencies to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. These toxins interfere with the body’s ability to balance hormones, causing a woman’s body to believe that estrogen levels are unusually high. Abnormally high estrogen levels are a known catalyst for cancer of the female reproductive system. Certain demographics, particularly Black women, are at an increased risk for these issues based on their usage rates.
Injuries from chemical hair relaxers include:
For several types of reproductive system cancer, the recommended treatment is a hysterectomy. This surgery removes a woman’s uterus, and often other parts of the reproductive system like fallopian tubes. As a result, a woman who has had a hysterectomy is no longer able to carry children. This loss, in addition to the other costs of cancer or reproductive health issues, can potentially be compensated in a product liability lawsuit.
Recovering Damages in a Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
Women who have been diagnosed with cancer of the reproductive system may be forced to undergo invasive treatments that compromise their careers and lifestyles. Managing cancer treatments can negatively impact a woman’s ability to care for her home and family, perform her job, or engage in her hobbies. Product liability lawsuits offer a way to recover financial relief for these losses.
Plaintiffs may seek compensation for both special and general damages. Special damages refer to costs that have a set dollar value. A plaintiff can prove the value of this type of cost with a pay, stub, bill, or another form of documentation. Additionally, plaintiffs can recover compensation for their emotional losses, which are considered general damages.
Examples of Damages in a Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuit:
- Medical bills
- Lab tests
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Hospital stays
- 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 costs
- Loss of services and support
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction
If you suspect you may have health issues related to chemical hair relaxer usage, you should speak with a product liability lawyer to file a hair relaxer claim as soon as possible to avoid letting the statute of limitations run out.
Next Steps for Plaintiffs in the Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
Now that lead counsel has been appointed, the chemical hair relaxer claims can move forward through the discovery process and bellwether trials. Representatives for the plaintiffs will need to leverage the available evidence to establish liability and prove why their client deserves compensation for their damages.
The basis of establishing liability is proving that the defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff and that the defendant’s actions qualify as a breach of that duty of care. In this case, plaintiffs are pretty clearly owed a duty of care as consumers. The greater point of contention is whether or not the chemical hair relaxer makers’ refusal to provide warning labels on their products violates their duty. If plaintiffs can successfully establish liability, they still need to demonstrate that their cancer resulted from these products and their missing warning labels and that their damages are related to their injuries.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer or other reproductive health issues after using chemical hair relaxers, you may be entitled to recover compensation in a product liability lawsuit. The amount of compensation you receive is dependent on the product liability lawyer you hire to represent you in negotiations. A product liability lawyer can help you hold a chemical hair relaxer maker accountable for their negligence by compiling evidence to make a convincing claim for damages and negotiating strategically to maximize your compensation.