Hair relaxers, products widely used for straightening curly or frizzy hair, have recently become the subject of numerous lawsuits due to claims that they cause cancer and other health problems. Nearly 60 cases have been filed against L’Oréal and other companies, with the lawsuits now consolidated in a Chicago federal court according to a report.
These lawsuits are led by plaintiffs who assert that they have developed cancer and other health issues as a result of using hair relaxer products. With a growing number of cases, the Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) established in February 2023 has seen 124 cases brought together, aiming to streamline the legal process and ensure consistent outcomes. The large-scale litigation highlights the potential risks associated with hair relaxers and has sparked conversations about the need for stricter regulation and oversight in the cosmetics industry.
Hair Relaxer Products and Chemicals
Chemical Hair Relaxer
Chemical hair relaxers are products designed to straighten curly or textured hair by breaking down the natural disulfide bonds within the hair’s structure. These products often contain a strong alkaline substance, such as sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide, which allows the relaxation process to occur. While chemical hair relaxers have been popular among African American women and others with textured hair, concerns have been raised about the potential side effects of these products. Research has shown that prolonged or inappropriate use of chemical hair relaxers may cause damage to the hair shaft and scalp, leading to hair loss, scalp irritation, and burns.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances that can interfere with the body’s endocrine system, which regulates hormones. They are found in many everyday products, including cosmetics, plastics, and pesticides. Some hair relaxer products may contain EDCs, such as parabens and phthalates, which can be absorbed through the skin and affect the body’s hormonal balance. This may result in negative health effects, including disruptions to reproductive and immune systems, as well as interference with the development of neurological systems in children.
Phthalates are a group of chemicals commonly used as plasticizers, which make plastics more flexible and durable. They are also found in a wide range of personal care products, including hair relaxers. Phthalates have been linked to various health problems, such as reproductive and developmental issues, respiratory problems, and even cancer. The presence of phthalates in hair relaxer products has led to legal action by users who have experienced health issues allegedly related to these chemicals.
Overall, it is essential for consumers to be aware of the potential dangers associated with hair relaxer products and their chemical components. Choosing safer alternatives, such as natural hair care methods and products, may help reduce exposure to dangerous chemicals and the risk of developing serious health issues.
Health Risks Associated with Hair Relaxers
Hair relaxers have been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer. The link between hair relaxers and cancer may be due to the chemicals present in these products that can impact hormone levels and disrupt the endocrine system in harmful ways. Research from the National Institutes of Health has shown a connection between hair relaxers and cancer in dozens of lawsuits.
Recent studies have been conducted to investigate the potential health risks associated with hair relaxers, including a study from the National Institutes of Health. This study identified the following potential risks related to hair relaxers use:
- Higher risk of developing uterine fibroids
- Increased risk of ovarian cancer
- Increased risk of breast cancer
- Potential links to endometrial cancer
These risks have been supported by various other studies and have contributed to the growing concern surrounding hair relaxer safety.
Reproductive Health Issues
Hair relaxers have also been linked to reproductive health issues, including fibroids, endometriosis, and infertility. A recent study found that women who use chemical hair relaxers are 1.4 times more likely to develop uterine fibroids.
Moreover, other studies have shown an increased risk of endometriosis and infertility. The chemicals present in hair relaxers may negatively impact a woman’s reproductive health, leading to long-term health issues that could result in the need for a hysterectomy.
Pain and Discomfort
Aside from the more serious health issues associated with hair relaxer use, numerous individuals have reported experiencing pain and discomfort following the application of these products. The chemicals used in hair relaxers can cause burns, blisters, and severe itching in some cases. Additionally, those who have experienced health problems as a result of using hair relaxers, such as fibroids and endometriosis, may endure significant pain and discomfort that greatly impacts their quality of life.
In conclusion, hair relaxers have been linked to various health risks, including cancer, reproductive health issues, and pain and discomfort. As more research emerges on the potential dangers of hair relaxers, individuals are urged to consider the possible health implications before using these products.
Legal Actions and Lawsuits
Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)
Nearly 60 hair relaxer lawsuits have been filed, claiming that hair relaxer products sold by companies like L’Oréal cause cancer and other health problems. These cases will be consolidated in a Chicago federal court, as decided by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). MDL, a legal procedure used in federal courts, is designed to centralize and streamline complex civil litigation. This often consists of multiple lawsuits from different jurisdictions with similar issues of fact and law.
In February 2023, Judge Mary M. Rowland from the Northern District of Illinois was assigned to oversee the hair relaxer MDL. The consolidation aims to reduce duplicate discovery efforts, avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings, and save time for the parties, attorneys, and courts involved. The MDL will follow a case management order, addressing various discovery and pretrial motion deadlines.
Class Action Lawsuits
The hair relaxer lawsuits have also been consolidated into a new class action MDL, making it easier for victims to seek legal recourse collectively. In a class action lawsuit, one or several individuals, known as the “class representatives,” act on behalf of a larger group, or “class” affected by the same issue. This legal action allows victims to pool resources and representation, increasing efficiency and potentially impacting settlement amounts.
Product Liability Lawsuits
Product liability lawsuits often arise when defective or dangerous products cause harm to consumers. In the case of the hair relaxer litigation, the lawsuits were filed after the publication of the NIH Sister Study in October 2022, linking hair relaxer use to increased risks of endometriosis and other health issues.
Among the pending lawsuits, some may be selected as bellwether trials. These trials serve as test cases, providing an opportunity for both sides to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the claims, the legal merit of the arguments, and potential outcomes. These litigations might lead to settlements, depending on the results of the bellwether trials and the overall course of the MDL.
Companies Involved in Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
L’Oréal, a leading cosmetics company, has been named a defendant in several lawsuits claiming that their hair relaxer products cause cancer and other health problems. These lawsuits have been consolidated in a Chicago federal court, and include plaintiffs alleging that L’Oréal’s products have led to serious health issues.
Godrej Son Holdings Inc.
Godrej Son Holdings Inc. is another company that has also been implicated in the hair relaxer lawsuits. Although information regarding their specific involvement is scarce, it is evident that they, like other cosmetic companies, face litigation over the health implications of their hair relaxer products.
Dabur International Ltd.
Dabur International Ltd., a global personal care and cosmetics company, is yet another entity involved in these lawsuits. Similar to the other companies mentioned, Dabur International has been accused of producing hair relaxers that may lead to serious health problems, including cancer.
Revlon, a well-known cosmetics company, is also among the companies named in the hair relaxer litigation. The lawsuits against Revlon allege that their hair relaxer products may cause health issues ranging from cancer to endometriosis. As with the other companies, these lawsuits have been consolidated and are being heard in the U.S. District Court in Chicago.
The legal firm representing the plaintiffs in these cases is DiCello Levitt, and U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland oversees the consolidated lawsuits, known as MDL No. 3060. The lawsuits generally claim that companies such as L’Oréal USA, Godrej Son Holdings Inc., Dabur International Ltd., and Revlon have not adequately provided information about the potential risks associated with their hair relaxer products. The plaintiffs argue that these products disproportionately affect people of color, and the companies have failed to maintain adequate safety standards.
Key Figures and Advocates in Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
Jenny Mitchell is a leading plaintiff in the hair relaxer lawsuits. She has been at the forefront of protecting consumers from potentially harmful products. Mitchell bravely revealed her own experience with hair relaxers, drawing attention to the possible adverse effects of these products. Her advocacy efforts have led to increased public awareness of the potential dangers of using hair relaxers and have prompted further investigations into their safety.
Alexandra White, an environmental health research scientist, has been focusing on the potential risks and health consequences associated with hair relaxers. White’s research adds credibility and scientific support for the claims made by plaintiffs in these lawsuits. Her work highlights the need for further study on the chemicals used in hair relaxers and their potential impact on long-term health outcomes.
Diandra Debrosse Zimmermann
Diandra Debrosse Zimmermann, an attorney experienced in handling cases related to consumer products and personal injury, has taken a significant role in representing the plaintiffs in hair relaxer litigation. Zimmermann has offered her expertise to build strong cases against corporations manufacturing and selling hair relaxer products, potentially linked to causing health issues. Her dedication to seeking justice for the victims of these products is an essential factor in the ongoing legal battle.
Ben Crump, a renowned civil rights attorney, has joined the fight against hair relaxer manufacturers. Crump has a history of advocating for those who have suffered harm due to corporate negligence and has successfully represented clients in numerous high-profile cases. By lending his voice and legal skills to the hair relaxer lawsuits, Crump is helping to elevate the cause, ensuring that the voices of those impacted are heard and corporations are held accountable for their actions.