Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Updates
Learn the Current Status of the Lawsuits Targeting Chemical Hair Straightener Companies Nationwide
Companies that sell chemical hair straightening products are facing lawsuits from consumers across the country. These lawsuits allege that chemical hair straighteners sold by Revlon, L’Oréal and other companies cause ovarian cancer, uterine cancer and other serious medical conditions even when used properly. More victims are coming forward every day, and the litigation targeting these companies is growing rapidly.
The Latest Updates on the Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuits Pending Across the United States
Here are the latest updates from the chemical hair straightener lawsuit lawyers at Searcy Denney:
October 2023 Update
As of the middle of October, nearly 6,000 chemical hair straightener lawsuits have been filed in jurisdictions across the country. These lawsuits are continuing to be consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Revlon, L’Oréal and other companies. As a result of Revlon’s bankruptcy filing earlier in the year, the judge overseeing the MDL has advised lawyers that they should file claims against the company as soon as possible in order to preserve their clients’ ability to recover.
Another important development in October was the MDL judge’s ruling on the defendants’ discovery objections. Discovery is a key stage in the litigation process during which the parties have the right to obtain certain information from one another. While the defendants asserted broad objections to the plaintiffs’ discovery requests, the MDL judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on nearly all of the defendants’ arguments. As a result, the defendants now have a November 23, 2023 deadline to comply with the plaintiffs’ requests for internal communications, chemical engineering reports and other potentially key pieces of information.
September 2023 Update
In September 2023, it was reported that approximately 2,000 individual plaintiffs’ lawsuits had been added to the pending MDL over the past three months. This represented a significant uptick, which was anticipated based on growing awareness of the link between chemical hair straighteners and various health problems, including multiple forms of cancer.
Also in September, one of the primary defendants in the pending MDL, Dabur International, filed a notice of change of counsel. Dabur International, which owns several subsidiaries in the U.S. and other countries, replaced its lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis LLC with lawyers from Baker & McKenzie LLP. Both firms are among the largest in the world; and, notably, Kirkland & Ellis LLC had previously served as lead counsel in the 3M earplug litigation. Perhaps coincidentally, and perhaps not, 3M agreed to settle its litigation in August for more than $6 billion.
August 2023 Update
In August 2023, the MDL litigation involving chemical hair straighteners really began to take shape. The judge overseeing the litigation approved a Short Form Complaint that new plaintiffs can use to join the litigation—and, as discussed in the more-recent updates above—this helped to facilitate a dramatic increase in the number of lawsuits filed. A short time later, the plaintiffs’ master complaint was filed as well. At more than 400 pages long, the master complaint includes 145 counts, and it provides a comprehensive overview of the allegations underlying the plaintiffs’ claims for damages.
By the end of August, there were hundreds of plaintiffs involved in the MDL. As noted above, the total number of plaintiffs would increase more than tenfold over the next few months. August was also when the defendants filed their discovery objections, which would ultimately prove almost entirely unsuccessful.
July 2023 Update
In July 2023, the number of plaintiffs joining the chemical hair straightener litigation saw its first major uptick—although this number would quickly be surpassed in the months to come. One of the most significant updates in July was Revlon’s update to the MDL court on its pending bankruptcy. Revlon either currently sells or previously sold several chemical hair straightening products, including African Pride, Crème of Nature, Fabulaxer, French Perm, Herbarich, Revlon Professional and Revlon Realistic, among others.
During July, the defendants also filed a motion to bifurcate discovery, requesting that the court only allow the plaintiffs to obtain information on the subject of “general causation,” or whether their chemical hair straightening products have the potential to cause cancer. This is distinguished from “specific causation,” which focuses on the harm suffered by individual plaintiffs or plaintiff groups. This is a relatively uncommon request which appears to be little more than a delay tactic.
Prior Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Updates
Prior to July 2023, the updates in the chemical hair relaxer MDL were mostly more mundane in nature. In fact, one of the most significant updates occurred outside of the courtroom, when the Boston University School of Public Health released a report titled, Hair Relaxer Use May Affect Ability to Conceive. In the report, the authors discuss the details of “[a] first-of-its-kind study [which] showed that use of chemical hair straighteners was associated with a slight reduction in the likelihood of pregnancy, and that Black and Hispanic individuals were more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to use these products.”
What’s Next in the Pending Chemical Hair Relaxer Litigation?
At this point, what’s next in the pending chemical hair relaxer litigation? In the courtroom, filings from both sides remain pending, and the MDL judge has a lot of work ahead. This is especially true given that the total number of plaintiffs is likely to continue rapidly expanding over the coming year. Many individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer or another serious health condition still have time to file. But, this won’t always be the case. As a result, if you believe you may have a claim, we recommend that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Do You Have a Case? Contact Us to Discuss Your Lawsuit with a Lawyer for Free
If you think you may have a chemical hair relaxer lawsuit (or if you don’t know and would like to find out), we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation. To discuss your case with an experienced lawyer at Searcy Denney, please call 800-780-8607 or request an appointment online today.