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Federal Panel Considers Hair Relaxer MDL

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  January 28, 2023   |  

Judicial Panel to Consider Consolidation of Hair Relaxer Lawsuits into MDL

More than 100 hair relaxer lawsuits have been filed as research continues to link uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and other injuries to chemical hair relaxer use. A judicial panel will consider consolidating these lawsuits in February 2023, establishing a hair relaxer multidistrict litigation (MDL).

How Would a Hair Relaxer MDL Work?

A federal panel is considering consolidating hair relaxer lawsuits into multidistrict litigation (MDL).The motion to establish an MDL would allow prosecutors to coordinate discovery, witness identification, and expert testimony in front of one judge. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will hear oral arguments on January 26, 2023, before deciding whether an MDL is warranted.

A recent study suggests that people, especially Black women, who use chemical hair straighteners and relaxers are at increased risk of uterine cancer. This study, using more than a decade’s worth of data from 33,947 women, revealed an association between both frequent and infrequent chemical relaxer use and uterine cancer.

IMPORTANT: If you’ve suffered from uterine cancer or ovarian cancer (or another qualifying condition) after using chemical hair straightener products, call 1-800-525-7111 for a FREE case review concerning a potential hair relaxer lawsuit. There are no upfront costs and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless you receive compensation.

Involvement in a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

A number of hair relaxer and straightener manufacturers are being sued by plaintiffs across the United States for failing to disclose potential side effects. Existing lawsuits include allegations that products cause:

Due to similarities in existing lawsuits, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to consolidate all claims under a hair relaxer MDL. The manufacturers involved in the lawsuits argue that claims should continue on separate tracks despite similar allegations.

What’s Next for the Potential Hair Relaxer MDL?

After the January 26, 2023 hearing, the U.S. JPML will decide whether or not an MDL is warranted. If a hair relaxer MDL is established, the U.S. JPML will identify a single federal district court to handle the litigation. The consolidated lawsuit would include all existing litigation and any cases filed after the MDL’s formation.

While the manufacturers of hair straighteners and relaxers oppose the establishment of an MDL, they have asked that the Southern District of New York manage litigation should the cases be consolidated. The plaintiff group that filed the motion to form an MDL requested that a centralized case be handled by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Do Hair Straighteners and Relaxers Cause Uterine Cancer?

Researchers recently discovered a significant association between chemical hair relaxer use and uterine cancer risk, particularly among Black women.

Uterine cancer is relatively rare, only impacting an estimated 1.64% of women who never use chemical straighteners or relaxers. For women who frequently use these products, however, the uterine cancer rate more than doubled to 4.05%. The study also found that even occasional straightener or relaxer use puts women at an elevated risk for uterine cancer.

The scientists who discovered this association between hair relaxers and uterine cancer published their findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. One of the researchers, Alexandra White, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology group, said that as far as they are aware, their study is the first to examine the relationship between hair relaxers and uterine cancer.

“More research is needed to confirm these findings in different populations, to determine if hair products contribute to health disparities in uterine cancer, and to identify the specific chemicals that may be increasing the risk of cancers in women,” said White.

“Am I at Risk?”

The study found that about 60% of participants who used chemical straighteners or relaxers were Black women. Black women may be more at risk due to greater use, but the researchers didn’t find any other evidence indicating that race was a factor in the prevalence of uterine cancer.

Overall, the study found a significant association between hair relaxer use and uterine cancer. The association was significantly stronger among those who use hair relaxers and straighteners more than four times per year, but even infrequent use was linked to elevated cancer risk.

Do You Have a Hair Relaxer Cancer Claim?

If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine cancer (or another qualifying condition) after using chemical hair relaxer products, you may be entitled to compensation, and we would love to help however we can. Call 1-800-525-7111 for a FREE case review with an experienced Riddle & Brantley attorney handling hair relaxer lawsuits. 

Justice Counts.