JPML Sides With Hair Relaxer Plaintiffs Seeking Multidistrict Litigation in Illinois

February 8, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
JPML Sides With Hair Relaxer Plaintiffs Seeking Multidistrict Litigation in Illinois

Product liability lawsuits against the makers of chemical hair straighteners have been officially consolidated into a multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of Illinois by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). Plaintiffs sought this multidistrict litigation (MDL) after filing claims against chemical hair relaxer makers like L’Oreal for failing to warn them of the increased risk of cancer and reproductive health issues associated with their products.

If you are interested in filing a product liability lawsuit regarding defective chemical hair straighteners after receiving a cancer diagnosis, we encourage you to speak with a product liability lawyer as soon as possible to join the MDL. Dolman Law Group has been at the forefront of this issue, and we are prepared to help you navigate the complex process of filing a personal injury claim to recover your damages. You can take advantage of a free consultation with our team to learn more about how our services can benefit your claim.

Plaintiffs Allege Chemical Hair Relaxers Contain Cancer-Causing Chemicals

A growing body of evidence suggests that consistently using chemical hair relaxers can significantly increase a woman’s risk of developing certain hormone-sensitive cancers and other reproductive health issues. By using chemical hair relaxers 4 or more times a year, a woman doubles her risk of developing uterine cancer over the course of her life, according to NIH researchers. Studies have linked numerous reproductive health issues to the repeated use of chemical hair relaxers, including:

As a result of using chemical hair straighteners, women have sustained heavy financial losses, suffered from mental health issues, and struggled with their physical health. In order to recover the value of these damages, women across the country have filed product liability lawsuits against the makers of chemical hair relaxers. They claim that beauty companies were negligent in their testing of products, or were potentially aware that their products contained carcinogens but failed to provide consumers with a warning label.

Hair Relaxer Plaintiffs File a Motion to Establish a Multidistrict Litigation

The motion that requested the hair relaxer claims be considered eligible for a multidistrict litigation was initiated by a group of four plaintiffs from two different jurisdictions. They acted on behalf of hair relaxer plaintiffs, including nine other actions from 4 districts. An additional 44 hair relaxer claims have been filed, spanning 15 other jurisdictions. A multidistrict litigation would benefit plaintiffs by alleviating the burden of the discovery process, as well as ensuring consistent rulings and settlement outcomes.

Multidistrict Litigation Request is Approved by the JPML

The JPML has ruled in favor of women accusing the makers of chemical hair relaxers of negligence because they found that their request met the criteria for a multidistrict litigation. The panel notes that the claims all deal with common questions of fact and that the plaintiffs sustained similar injuries. They further specified that the plaintiffs’ claims all include the following questions of fact:

  • Do endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in chemical hair relaxers damage the female reproductive system?
  • Did the defendants have knowledge of the harm their products could cause?
  • If so, when did they become aware that their chemical hair straighteners were causing injury to their customers?
  • Did the defendants thoroughly test their products before marketing them to consumers without a warning label, and did they monitor how their product was affecting consumers once it was sold? 

The JPML states that they believe an MDL is appropriate for streamlining the discovery process, as plaintiffs would likely engage the same set of expert witnesses to validate their claims. Additionally, they explain that consolidating the chemical hair relaxer claims will resolve pretrial issues. For example, considering the claims as a multidistrict litigation will allow the opportunity for both sides to come to an agreement on what constitutes a harmful level of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals

JPML Addresses Defendant’s Objections to the MDL

The defendants include the makers of several popular chemical hair straighteners. Thus far, the companies named include:

The defendants that responded to the plaintiffs’ request for centralization all disapproved of creating a multidistrict litigation. In their transfer order (PDF), the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation offers a response to the objections raised by the defendants in the chemical hair relaxer lawsuits. To begin with, the defendants protested that multiple competing manufacturers were named in these product liability lawsuits and that the women making the claims often used multiple different hair relaxer products over the course of their lives. 

The JPML concedes that while no one toxic chemical or product has been identified as the sole culprit for the plaintiffs’ injuries, the vast majority of the plaintiffs used L’Oreal products, and in fact, used multiple products made by the defendants. To consider all of the claims separately based on the use of multiple similar hair relaxer products would strain the courts' resources. The JPML also pointed out that the number of claims has grown to 53 cases located all over the U.S., and an MDL makes their consideration exponentially more expeditious and feasible. 

JPML Transfers Hair Relaxer Multidistrict Litigation to Illinois

After hearing oral arguments and deliberation, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled that the chemical hair relaxer lawsuits will be heard in the Northern District of Illinois. The Honorable Mary M. Rowland will oversee the multidistrict litigation. She is already presiding over two of the actions, and sixteen more chemical hair relaxer lawsuits are in the progress of being filed in her jurisdiction.

Most plaintiffs requested the Northern District of Illinois, and even the plaintiffs that requested alternative jurisdictions did not object to the Northern District of Illinois as a backup option. The representatives for the defendants expressed a preference for the Southern District of New York, with the Northern District of Illinois being their second choice.

This was seen as a fair compromise based on where the plaintiffs are located, the preferences of the defendants and plaintiffs, as well as the logistics of transporting relevant expert witnesses and stakeholders to the court. Future chemical hair relaxer claims that are comparable to the existing cases may join the multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of Illinois.

Why Should I Hire Dolman Law Group to Represent Me?

The personal injury attorneys of Dolman Law Group have a record of success when it comes to negotiating complex claims for maximum compensation. Over our decade of service, we have represented injured clients from across the country by conducting thorough investigations of their claims, meticulously documenting and calculating their damages, and then strategically negotiating for the compensation they deserved.

As our client, you will benefit from our expertise in product liability law, as well as our strong work ethic. Beyond that, mass tort claims like the hair relaxer cancer lawsuits require an additional level of knowledge from your hair straightener lawyer. The product liability lawyers of Dolman Law Group are familiar with the expectations involved, as well as the tactics representatives for the defendants may employ in an attempt to undermine your claim. 

Without the support of our seasoned team, you could risk walking away with a significantly lower settlement than we could have negotiated on your behalf. You can trust the personal injury lawyers of Dolman Law Group to prioritize your needs as we dedicate ourselves to managing your hair relaxer cancer claim.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Chemical Hair Straightener Lawsuit

Women who have been diagnosed with reproductive health issues like uterine cancer or endometriosis after using defective hair relaxers have enough on their plates without having to manage a product liability claim. That’s where the skilled negotiators of Dolman Law Group take over. We will protect your rights and negotiate for a settlement that reflects your losses.

Our product liability lawyers are well-equipped to take your claim to trial in order to secure a fair settlement. You can feel confident that our team will work tirelessly to maximize your compensation and hold the negligent parties accountable in a chemical hair straightener lawsuit.

At Dolman Law Group, we will invest the time, effort, and expertise necessary to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your damages resulting from the chemical hair relaxer maker’s negligence. Reach out to our team to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled personal injury attorneys to discuss the qualifications for joining the hair relaxer cancer multidistrict litigation.


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 successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic 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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