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Last year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a landmark study indicating that repeated use of hair straighteners increases the risk of uterine cancer in women. The study found that women who used hair straighteners more than 4 times a year had twice the risk of developing uterine cancer. Shortly after NIH published the study, women across the country began filing a flurry of lawsuits against cosmetic companies like L’Oreal.
They claimed that these firms were at fault for failing to disclose that their products could negatively impact their health. Federal courts across the country are currently fielding dozens of hair relaxer cancer lawsuits, and thousands more women are expected to file hair relaxer cancer lawsuits over the course of the year.
The majority of hair cancer relaxer lawsuits were filed starting from October and November 2022. These early plaintiffs also submitted a motion asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to combine all the hair relaxer lawsuits into a new class action MDL.
Here is a timeline of the events that followed after plaintiffs filed the initial hair relaxer cancer lawsuits;
32-year-old Chicago resident Jenny Mitchel was one of the first women to file a hair relaxer lawsuit in late October 2022. Her lawsuit against L’Oreal claimed that the firm’s products repeatedly exposed her to toxic “phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals” and led to her endocrine cancer diagnosis. More than ten plaintiffs in four federal district courts followed suit and filed hair relaxer uterine cancer lawsuits in November.
A suit that would require cosmetic companies to pay for a medical monitoring program for their at-risk customers was also filed in a Michigan federal court. In late November, Keaira Gamble filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, claiming that continued exposure to toxic chemicals in hair relaxers left her with uterine fibroids. It was the first lawsuit tying hair relaxers to diseases other than uterine cancer.
Three hair straightener lawsuits connecting chemical relaxers to uterine cancer and two suits alleging that they caused uterine fibroids were filed in December. On January 4, a plaintiff who had been employed in a hair salon for a while filed a lawsuit against four cosmetic companies stating that toxic chemicals in their products led to her endocrine cancer diagnosis.
Over the course of January 2023, 23 hair relaxer lawsuits were filed in several federal courts. Plaintiffs also filed over 30 more new hair relaxer lawsuits in February, with most of the suits being in the Northern District of Illinois, where the hair relaxer MDL will be prosecuted.
Firms named in the new hair relaxer MDL include;
* L’Oreal has been removed from the list of brands named in the MDL.
Millions of African American women have used chemical hair relaxers and straighteners for decades. One chemical ingredient in such relaxers is a class of chemicals called phthalates or plasticizers that are known as endocrine disruptors. The endocrine system produces hormones such as estrogen that are responsible for controlling growth and development, mood, metabolism, organ function, and reproduction.
Since it plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis (the body’s internal balance), even slight variations in endocrine system function can impact hormone levels and cause several negative health outcomes.
Scientists found that continued exposure to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) interfered with endocrine activity and increased the risk of hormone-driven health conditions in women, such as uterine cancer, endometriosis, and abnormal puberty onset.
There is solid scientific evidence linking the chemicals in hair straighteners with a number of medical conditions in women. If you used chemical hair straighteners repeatedly and have been diagnosed with uterine cancer, endocrine cancer, or any other hormone-driven health condition, you should strongly consider filing a lawsuit.
The product manufacturer should be held liable for all the injury and subsequent medical costs arising from their products. You will be entitled to adequate compensation based on the strength of your suit and the severity of your injuries. Ideally, you are entitled to enough compensation to cover your past, current, and future medical costs, prescription medication, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Taking legal action against cosmetic firms which have manufactured and sold dangerous chemical hair relaxers without disclosing the risk will ensure that they are held accountable for their actions. More importantly, it will give you a chance to secure compensation for all the losses you suffered as a result of using such products.
Hair relaxers rely on a mix of chemicals to break down the chemical structure in hair with curly textures and make it lie flat. They are predominantly used by African American women who are more likely to have naturally curly hair.
A long-term study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dubbed the ‘Sister Study‘ examined more than 33,000 women for over ten years to determine the potential health risks of these chemicals.
The research revealed that the chemical ingredients used in hair relaxer creams significantly increased the risk of developing uterine cancer in women who used hair relaxers.
Phthalates or plasticizers emerged as the key cause of hormone-related conditions in women in the NIH study. Two types of chemicals in this class are primarily responsible for the negative health outcomes associated with repeated hair straightener and relaxer use.
As their name suggests, EDCs disrupt endocrine system function. Usually, the endocrine system produces a variety of hormones that bind to the receptors of target cells to carry out specific functions. However, EDCs are capable of disrupting this delicate balance by either acting on the proteins in charge of controlling hormone delivery or acting directly on hormone receptors as antagonists or mimics.
EDCs can confuse the body into thinking there is an overabundance or absence of certain hormones and cause it to either over-respond to the perceived stimulus or respond when it shouldn’t. They can impact hormone levels in your body by messing with hormone production, degradation, and storage.
EDCs also have the ability to make changes to DNA and change the structure of hormone receptors on target cells. All of these actions allow EDCs to hamper normal endocrine system function and increase the risk of endocrine cancer.
DHEP is another hair straightener chemical that has been linked to negative health effects in women. It is a highly toxic synthetic chemical in the phthalate family and was the most used phthalate derivative in the 20th century. It is also the most common phthalate in hair relaxers.
Once it enters the body, DHEP breaks down into several toxic metabolites that cause issues such as reproductive dysfunction, endometriosis, and various types of cancer.
On October 17, 2022, the NIH published the results of a long-term study typing hair relaxers to uterine cancer in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The study presented the first epidemiologic evidence of the connection between uterine cancer and hair relaxers. Researchers used data collected in the ongoing Sister Study, which is currently looking for risk factors that contribute to health conditions such as breast cancer in over 33,000 women.
Before the study began, researchers first quizzed women on the types of hair products they used the previous year before following up for close to 11 years. After they adjusted for other factors, they found that women who had used hair straighteners over four times a year were 2½ times more likely to develop uterine cancer. Study author Che-Jung Chang, Ph.D., noted that Black women were more at risk as they tend to use hair relaxer products more frequently and from earlier ages.
Millions of women across the country, primarily Black women, have used hair relaxers and straighteners for decades. Data from the U.S. Census Data and Simmons National Consumer Survey shows that 10.38 million used home hair relaxers in 2020 alone. As such, the number of possible plaintiffs who could sue cosmetic companies for damages is immense.
Furthermore, there are over 600,000 uterine cancer survivors currently residing in the U.S. Even if around 10% of them have used hair relaxers repeatedly, cases involving hair relaxers and uterine cancers will increase significantly. Before the JPML created a new hair relaxer MDL, there were nearly 60 hair relaxer cancer cases pending across 19 different federal districts.
Given the pool of women who have likely used hair relaxers in the past (more than 80% of Black women), we can expect the number of suits under this new MDL to surge to the thousands over the next couple of months.
The first step to successfully filing a hair relaxer cancer lawsuit is to make sure you actually have a valid claim. Generally, anyone who has used chemical hair relaxers/straighteners for a few years and has been diagnosed with female reproductive cancers such as ovarian and uterine cancer can file for damages.
If you used hair relaxer products as instructed on the packaging at least four times in a year and later received a female reproductive cancer diagnosis, you may be eligible for compensation from the firm that manufactured the products.
You may also have a valid claim if you do not have a type of female reproductive cancer, as the research indicated that hair relaxers could also contribute to the development of mental health disorders, fibroids, and early puberty onset. A licensed lawyer can help you figure out if you meet the criteria for filing a hair straightener lawsuit.
They will likely ask you about your experiences with the products you used and review your medical records to prove your diagnosis. Once your attorney has determined that you have a history of using chemical hair relaxers and have been diagnosed with a type of female productive cancer, they will file a suit on your behalf.
The key piece of evidence you need to support your claim is medical records proving that you were diagnosed with conditions such as uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, or ovarian cancer. You could also include financial records detailing your lost income and the total amount you spent on medical treatment.
The statute of limitations is a law that gives plaintiffs a maximum amount of time to initiate legal proceedings. This means that you will have a limited amount of time to file a hair relaxer cancer lawsuit. Once this period elapses, you will not be able to file for damages even if you meet all the criteria for a hair relaxer lawsuit.
Every state has its own separate statute of limitations for product liability lawsuits. As such, it is crucial that you pursue a hair relaxer cancer suit at the earliest opportunity. An experienced product liability attorney can help you figure out the statute of limitations in your state and help you file a suit before it elapses.
Personal injury attorneys typically provide legal services to individuals who claim they have been physically or physiologically injured by the negligence of another person, government agency, entity, or company. Choosing the right personal injury lawyer is crucial if you wish to increase your chances of success.
Ideally, you will want an attorney with experience in product liability claims, personal injury law, and mass tort. The latter refers to cases that involve injury to several people. An attorney with this skill set will be well-equipped to handle your hair relaxer cancer claim.
Law is quite a complicated field. It takes seven years of post-high school education to achieve a law degree, and even then, laws are constantly changing and evolving. Legislators at federal, state, and local levels are regularly amending and updating current laws. Furthermore, decisions by some judges become legal precedents for subsequent rulings in similar cases.
As such, you should consider a personal injury attorney who has been working on several cases for several years and has been able to grow and adapt to these changes. An experienced lawyer is intimately familiar with the law, knows the ins and outs of the legal system, and can use the tricks they have learned while defending similar disputes to advance your case.
Once you have decided to file a hair relaxer cancer lawsuit, your first move should be to hire a personal injury lawyer. Here are the key factors you should consider when you choose a personal injury lawyer;
Consider choosing a lawyer who has experience with product liability lawsuits, mass tort, and personal injury. Such an attorney will be familiar with the laws surrounding product liability and personal injury.
While the internet allows you to hire attorneys from anywhere across the country, choosing one who lives close by is always the better choice. They know what’s going on in local courts and are well-acquainted with local laws. Furthermore, their close proximity makes it easier for you to meet them in person to discuss your case and reduces your transport costs.
Before settling deciding on a personal injury attorney, make sure you check their track record to see how they handled previous cases. You will want an attorney who has a record of successfully handling similar cases to increase your own chances of winning.
Another factor to consider while choosing an attorney is previous customer experiences. Such reviews will allow you to gain deeper insight into how an attorney treated and communicated with their prior clients. You can check online for customer reviews and ratings of attorneys in your area.
You should always be sure to discuss fees with an attorney prior to retaining them to represent you. Typically, in injury cases, attorneys work on contingency, which means they only get paid if their clients recover compensation. If an attorney is asking you for money upfront in a hair straightener matter, you should be very suspicious.
Finding an experienced and reliable attorney doesn’t have to be a challenge. There are plenty of resources that can help you find a lawyer at zero cost. The first is your local community of family, friends, and work colleagues. Reach out to people you know who have filed similar claims in the past and ask them to recommend lawyers they enjoyed working with. If you know a lawyer who specializes in an unrelated field, you can ask them to refer you to a personal injury lawyer.
You can also use internet resources like LinkedIn and attorney databases to search for attorneys based on practice area and location. Be sure to read client testimonials and reviews to further narrow down your search. Once you have chosen an attorney, reach out and book a consultation.
The process of filing a hair straightener lawsuit is relatively straightforward. An attorney will review your claim to see if it is valid and then file a suit at a local court once they have determined it has merit.
The first consultation with a personal injury lawyer will take place before you formally contract them as your attorney. It is meant to give you and the attorney time to decide if you would like to work together. During this meeting, you will tell the attorney about your chemical hair relaxer use and any health issues you believe were caused by these products.
You can also ask the lawyer questions about your claim, their experience with similar cases, and how they handle specific issues in personal injury and product liability claims. By the end of this first consultation, you should know whether your claim is valid, if you need an attorney, whether they could help you, and roughly how much it would cost to hire a lawyer.
An attorney-client relationship will be officially formed if you sign an engagement agreement with the attorney.
Your attorney will begin handling your legal matters at this point. They will start by filing a complaint and serving it to the defendants. This complaint will provide an exhaustive version of the events that led to you filing the claim and describe how repeated exposure to toxic chemicals in hair relaxers and straighteners contributed to your health issues.
Your lawyer will liaise with an officer or the court to ensure the complaint is served to the defendant and they receive a summons. This summons will include a basic overview of the case and provide the defendant with a deadline to respond to the claim. If the defendant fails to respond within the provided time, the respective court will enter a default judgment.
A response from the defendants will likely include admission or denial of the plaintiff’s claims or counterarguments to the claim.
After your attorney files a suit and serves the defendant, your case will enter into the discovery stage. This is the time when both parties review the case to understand their legal standing better and come up with strategies for the case. It may involve requests for depositions, requests for production, and requests for admissions.
Your attorney will go about collecting evidence that will prove your claim has merit during the discovery phase. This will likely include your medical and financial records as well as scientific literature outlining the connection between chemical hair relaxers and female reproductive cancers like uterine cancer.
The defendant may also file a motion to dismiss your claim, and it will be up to you and your attorney to oppose it.
A majority of personal injury lawsuits end during the negotiation stage. Lawyers are skilled negotiators, and they usually try to negotiate solutions that satisfy both parties without going to court. This process usually begins with your attorney sending a demand letter with a relatively high settlement claim.
The defendant will most likely send a response with a lower counteroffer claiming that your lawsuit is lacking in some way. Your attorney will then negotiate with the defendant’s lawyer for a settlement that is enough to cover all the physical and financial damages you suffered as a result of using chemical hair relaxers.
The case will head to trial if negotiations don’t result in a favorable settlement. Such a trial will start with each side giving opening statements followed by the presentation of evidence. Once this is done and each party has made closing statements, the jury will deliberate and provide a verdict.
The average hair relaxer cancer settlement per person ranges from $100,000 to $1,500,000 depending on the severity of the injuries and the strength of their cases. You may also be entitled to several types of compensation if you meet the criteria for a hair straightener lawsuit.
Personal injury damages are divided into compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate plaintiffs for their injuries, while punitive damages are designed to punish defendants if the court finds their actions to be particularly negligent. Here are some of the damages you may be able to secure:
Several factors will determine whether you get compensation and how much your final settlement will be. The most important factor will be the severity of your health problems and the overall impact they have had on your life. For instance, a plaintiff with uterine or ovarian cancer will be higher on the settlement tier scale compared to a plaintiff with endometriosis.
The amount of compensation you receive will also depend on your lost wages, lost future earning potential, the level of your pain and suffering, and the effect on your quality of life. The judge and jury will consider all of these factors to determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to.
At the time of writing, there were no prior examples of hair straightener and relaxer lawsuits that had reached a settlement.
In the wake of new research connecting hair relaxers to several negative health outcomes, it is important that we find safe alternatives. Using chemical hair relaxers just four times in one year can cause your risk of uterine cancer to more than double. Consider turning to alternatives that can produce the same effects without increasing your risk of developing several medical issues.
If you are looking to make your curly hair straight without using chemical relaxer creams, there are several alternatives for you. Here are some alternatives to consider;
Keratin treatments are a great alternative to chemical hair relaxers as they reduce frizz and make hair softer and shiny without damaging its structure. They are suitable for people who would like to straighten their hair for a long time and are only done at salons. Note that keratin treatment is not advised for pregnant women and can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Additionally, confirm that the keratin formula does not contain formaldehyde before you begin the treatment.
Oil treatments are much more pocket friendly than keratin treatments. They also prevent hair damage, lock in moisture, and promote healthy hair growth. Due to the wide accessibility of oils such as avocado, coconut, and olive oil, you don’t have to go to a salon to do an oil treatment. However, the oil may weigh down your hair.
You do not need special tools or even heat to use silicon creams. By acting as a molding agent, the silicon in these creams will keep your hair in place until you shampoo it out. It can also seal in moisture, keep your hair hydrated, and even protect your hair from heat damage. The drawback to this alternative is that it is quite temporary, and the silicon cream can be difficult to wash out fully.
On the other hand, you could go old school and use a flat iron to straighten your curly hair. Flat irons can cost anything from $25-$200 and are relatively easy to use. The process can take around an hour or more, depending on the length and volume of your hair. However, using a flat iron to relax your hair can damage your hair over time.
As recent research has revealed, a lot of the hair products on the shelves aren’t entirely safe. Some cosmetic firms consistently failed to disclose that their hair products contained toxic chemicals such as phthalates that can be immensely harmful to your health. So, for starters, consider staying away from hair products manufactured by any of the firms named in the hair straightener MDL.
Next, avoid hair products that contain the following chemicals;
Hair products that use natural ingredients should be at the top of your list. They tend to contain natural ingredients like coconut oil, aloe vera, argan oil, and essential oils and are capable of delivering their particular functions without damaging hair or putting your health at risk.
History has consistently shown that some consumer goods companies will manufacture and sell products with potential health risks. Even if such firms list potentially dangerous chemicals in their ingredients, most consumers will not decipher that these chemicals may harm their health.
Acquainting yourself with product safety product regulations will give you the knowledge you need to filter out products that contain potentially harmful chemical compounds. You can start by reading up on the safety regulations of products you use regularly. Look through the ingredients in these products and check online to see if any of them have been flagged as dangerous.
This could allow you to spot products that could harm your health and save you a lot of stress, time, and money down the road.
For decades, several firms within the cosmetic industry have sold millions of products without disclosing that they contain dangerous chemicals. These products may have contributed to the development of uterine cancer and other medical conditions in thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of women across America.
Dozens of women have already filed suit against these firms, and thousands more are expected to file lawsuits over the coming months.
If you have used chemical relaxers for several years and have been diagnosed with a medical disorder like uterine endometriosis or uterine cancer, consider filing a lawsuit. A recent paper from the National Institutes of Health provided evidence that repeated use of hair relaxers increases your risk of uterine cancer by more than two times.
Pursuing a hair straightener lawsuit will give you a chance to recover the financial losses you sustained due to poor health. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Have you been diagnosed with uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, or uterine endometriosis? You may have a valid legal claim if you used hair relaxers and straighteners for years prior to your diagnosis. These products have been found to contain chemical compounds that disrupt hormone activity in the body and cause negative health effects. It is important that we hold the companies behind these dangerous products responsible for their actions.
This will give victims a chance to pursue compensation for the damages they sustained and ensure that manufacturers disclose the presence of dangerous ingredients in their products to future customers. Call The Louthian Law Firm today at (803) 454-1200 or fill out our secure contact form to book a free consultation with our attorneys.