Short-Form Complaint Allows Direct Filing Into Hair Relaxer MDL

Short-Form Complaint Allows Direct Filing Into Hair Relaxer MDL

Hair relaxer lawsuits have become easier to file with the new implementation of a short-form complaint. Chemical hair relaxers have come under fire recently because of studies that have drawn a connection between the consistent use of these products and hormone-sensitive health issues like uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cancer. Many plaintiffs have filed hair relaxer lawsuits to hold hair care product manufacturers like L’Oreal, SoftSheen Carson, and Dabur accountable for failing to warn consumers about the cancer risk presented by their products.

The thousands of hair relaxer lawsuits filed across the country were consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) before Judge Mary M. Rowland in the Northern District of Illinois in March. To streamline the process for new plaintiffs to join the MDL, Judge Rowland issued an order that allowed new plaintiffs to file to join the MDL directly. New plaintiffs can file a Short-Form Complaint to join the MDL instead of filing a lawsuit in their jurisdiction and waiting for their case to transfer to the MDL.

Short-Form Complaint Streamlines Process for Filing New Hair Relaxer Cancer Claims

Over the past few months, joining the hair relaxer MDL has been a long process for new plaintiffs. It involved filing a hair relaxer lawsuit in their jurisdiction and a transfer order to join the hair relaxer MDL in the Northern District of Illinois. This process can take weeks or months, with developments occurring in the MDL while they wait.

To rectify this issue, hair relaxer MDL Judge Mary M. Rowland issued an order in March that would allow new plaintiffs to file directly into the MDL. The lawsuits involve common issues that can apply to each case. In May, plaintiffs filed a master hair relaxer complaint that outlined the common allegations and facts that apply to most cases in the hair relaxer MDL.

After a case management order was issued on August 3rd, Judge Rowland allowed all new plaintiffs joining the MDL to file a Short-Form Complaint, adopting allegations from the master complaint along with facts that apply specifically to their claim. These forms will also be used to select cases for bellwether trials.

What Information is Included in the Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Short-Form Complaint?

When a new plaintiff files a Short Form Complaint to join the hair relaxer MDL, they must include information about the products they used that caused their health issue. Many hair care product manufacturers, such as L’Oreal, Godrej Consumer Products, and Namaste Laboratories, have been named defendants in hair relaxer lawsuits. New plaintiffs must list the hair relaxer products they used, such as African Pride Olive Miracle, Dark & Lovely, or Optimum.

They must also list the injuries, illnesses, and medical conditions caused by their consistent hair relaxer use. Women have filed hair relaxer lawsuits because of the hormone-sensitive health issues caused by exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in hair relaxers. Every woman experiences different issues, so plaintiffs must list their specific medical conditions.

Illnesses Connected to Long-Term Chemical Hair Relaxer Use

The following are some adverse health conditions caused by consistent use of hair relaxers:

Study Indicates Connection Between Hair Relaxer Use and Cancer Risk

Women began filing hair relaxer lawsuits after the release of a National Institute of Health (NIH) study that connected consistent hair relaxer use to uterine cancer. The NIH study analyzed the data of 33,497 women participating in the Sister Study and found that using hair relaxers at least four times a year can double a woman’s chance of suffering uterine cancer. 

This troubling cancer risk is because hair relaxers contain harmful chemicals called EDCs that can enter the body through scalp absorption and cause hormone imbalance. They can block hormone functionality, trick the body into thinking they are hormones, and affect its hormone sensitivity. Some EDCs in hair relaxers that can cause severe health problems are phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, and bisphenol A.

Hair Relaxer MDL Consolidates Large Number of Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

After many plaintiffs filed their hair relaxer lawsuits to hold manufacturers accountable for damage, the Judicial Panel of Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) filed a motion to consolidate the lawsuits into a multi-district litigation (MDL). These lawsuits have to deal with similar injuries and illnesses from the same defendants, so consolidation can help to streamline the process. It can also ease the pressure on the court system so hundreds of cases involving similar facts do not have to go to trial individually.

In March 2023, the hair relaxer lawsuits consolidated into an MDL in the Northern District of Illinois. Over 200 pending cases are consolidated into the hair relaxer MDL, with more plaintiffs seeking to join the MDL. Since the MDL was created earlier this year, Judge Rowland assigned new lead counsel to represent the plaintiffs seeking financial restitution from manufacturers that failed to warn about the cancer risk associated with hair relaxers. 

Who Can File a Short-Form Complaint to Join the Hair Relaxer MDL?

With new plaintiffs now able to join the MDL through a Short-Form Complaint, more cases will likely be added to the MDL in the coming months. Anyone that used hair relaxers consistently and suffered hormone-sensitive health issues can file to join the hair relaxer MDL.

However, they must be able to prove their long-term exposure to EDCs through hair relaxers caused a medical condition with tangible evidence. This evidence can include receipts that prove purchasing hair relaxer products, photographic evidence of using hair relaxers, and medical records.

Contact an Experienced Product Liability Lawyer to Help With Your Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

Hair relaxer users that suffer from hormone-sensitive health issues can experience economic and non-economic damages, such as medical bills, lost earning potential, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium. They can file a Short-Form Complaint to join the hair relaxer MDL and put themselves in a position to recover compensation for their damages.

However, handling the process alone without legal experience can be difficult. Hair relaxer plaintiffs should seek the legal counsel of an experienced product liability lawyer that can advise them on how to join the MDL and what steps to take to help them recover compensatory damages. An experienced product liability lawyer can help them calculate the value of their claim, file the paperwork to join the MDL, collect evidence, and share resources with other lawyers.


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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