African Pride, Soft & Beautiful and Similar Hair Relaxer Perm Kits Caused Uterine Cancer, Lawsuit Alleges

Manufacturers failed to adequately test the hair relaxers and warn about the risk of uterine cancer and other side effects from the perm kits, lawsuit claims

A California woman has filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturers of African Pride, Soft & Beautiful and Dark & Lovely, indicating that she developed uterine cancer after using the hair relaxer perm kits for more than 30 years, unaware of the risks associated with the products.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Gloria Harris on April 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, naming L’Oreal, Softsheen-Carson, Strength of Nature, Godrej Son Holdings and Beauty Bell Enterprises as defendants.

Harris’s claim joins a growing number of similar hair relaxer perm lawsuits filed by women nationwide in recent months, each involving similar allegations that manufacturers put their desire for profits ahead of the safety and health of women of color, by failing to warn that regular exposure to the straightening chemicals may cause uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, fibroids and other side effects.

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Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

Regular exposure to chemicals in hair relaxer may cause uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and other injuries. Women diagnosed with cancer may be eligible for settlement benefits.

Learn More About this Lawsuit See If You Qualify For A Settlement

Harris indicates that she began using various hair relaxer perm kits in the late 1980s, and continued to apply the chemicals to her scalp for more than 30 years, until 2021.

Products like African Pride, Africa’s Best, Optimum Care, Soft & Beautiful, Just for Me and Dark & Lovely were used by Harris every eight to 12 weeks, and she indicates that endocrine disrupting chemicals contained in the hair relaxers resulted in her diagnosed with adenocarcinoma uterine cancer in April 2021.

Concerns over the use of hair relaxer products did not become public until more than a year later.

In October 2022, researchers published findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which warned that ingredients used in chemical hair relaxers may cause uterine cancer, finding that the rate of uterine cancer was nearly three times greater among women who frequently used hair relaxer chemicals, compared to women who never used the products.

“Companies and/or individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility and duty to ensure the safety of their own products,” the lawsuit states. “The FDA has consistently advised manufacturers to use whatever testing is necessary to ensure the safety of products and ingredients, which may be substantiated through (a) reliance on already available toxicological test data on individual ingredients and on product formulations that are similar in composition to the particular cosmetic, and (b) performance of any additional toxicological and other tests that are appropriate in light of such existing data and information.”

Harris’s lawsuit indicates defendants failed to do so, putting millions of women of color at risk.

May 2023 Hair Relaxing Perm Lawsuit Update

Given common questions of fact and law involved in each of the claims, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided last month to consolidate and centralize all hair relaxer and perm lawsuits as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, and appointed U.S. District Judge Mary M. Rowland to preside over all discovery and pretrial proceedings out of the Northern District of Illinois.

As part of the coordinated management of the litigation, it is expected that Judge Rowland will establish a bellwether process, where small groups of representative injury claims will go through case-specific discovery and be prepared for early trial dates, to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

Following the MDL proceedings and any early bellwether trials scheduled by Judge Rowland, if the parties fail to negotiate hair relaxer settlements for individuals diagnosed with cancer and other injuries, the Court may later remand each individual lawsuit directly filed in the MDL back to the U.S. District Court where it would have originated for a separate trial.



Lawyers provide free consultations and claim evaluations to help women determine if they may be eligible for a hair relaxer settlement following use of products like African Pride, Dark & Lovely, Just for Me and other perm kits.



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