Lawsuit Against Dark & Lovely, Just for Me and Other Hair Relaxer Manufacturers Alleges Perm Kits Caused Endometrial Cancer

Plaintiff was only five years old when she was first exposed to perm kits which she says caused her develop a form of uterine cancer, according to the lawsuit against hair relaxer manufacturers.

The makers of various hair relaxers continue to face a growing number of lawsuits alleging perm kits like Dark & Lovely, Just for Me and other popular brands caused women to develop cancer, following years of exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals.

A complaint (PDF) was recently filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on April 25, indicating that Antoinette Toney developed endometrial cancer following the use of Dark & Lovely, Just for Me, Motions, Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil, Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Girls, Optimum, Soft and Beautiful, Soft Sheen, and TCB Naturals’. She presents the lawsuit against L’Oreal, Soft-Sheen Carson, Godrej Son Holdings, Strength of Nature, LLC, Dabur International and Namaste Laboratories LLC.

Although the products were promoted as safe, the endometrial cancer lawsuit against hair relaxer manufacturers claims they failed to disclose that the perm kits expose women to toxic chemicals that increase the risk of cancer and other injuries.

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Toney indicates that she was only five years old when she first started using the perm kits in 1989, and the chemicals were regularly applied to her skull since then, continuing until about March 2022. Although she was first diagnosed with endometrial cancer, a form of uterine cancer, in April 2021, she was unaware of the link between her cancer and her use of hair relaxer products until new science identifying the connection was released last year.

The lawsuit alleges the hair relaxer manufacturers failed to warn consumers of the risks, and actively hid that risk in order to maximize profits.

“In some studies, up to 90% of Black and Brown women have used hair relaxers and straighteners, which is more commonplace for these women than women of any other race,” Toney’s lawsuit states. “Hair relaxers contain hormonally active and carcinogenic compounds, such as phthalates, known to cause endocrine disruption, which are not required to be listed separately as ingredients and are often broadly lumped into the ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ ingredient categories.”

Hair Relaxer Endometrial Cancer Risks

Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer, which begins in the uterus and typically develops slowly over time. Common symptoms may include vaginal bleeding, pain in the pelvic area and bloating. However, the problems often are not be noticed until the disease is at an advanced stage.

Lawsuits over the link between endometrial cancer and hair perm chemicals began to emerge late last year, after a study found that frequent users of hair relaxers faced a 156% increased risk of developing uterine cancer.

In October 2022, findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which warned that ingredients used in the chemical hair relaxers may cause uterine cancer. Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health reviewed data on nearly 34,000 women in the United States between the ages of 35 and 74 who completed questionnaires on their use of multiple hair products, including hair dyes, straighteners, relaxers, or pressing products, and permanents or body waves. A 10 year follow-up on the incident rate of uterine cancer diagnosis was performed.

According to the results, researchers identified 378 cases of endometrial cancer or uterine cancer, finding participants who used hair straightening products at least once had the highest rate of cancer diagnosis compared to any other hair products involved in the study. They also had a higher rate of uterine cancer when compared to women who used no hair straightener products.

May 2023 Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Status

Toney’s lawsuit against Dark & Lovely and other hair relaxer manufacturers joins a growing number of complaints which raise similar allegations, indicating that women were not adequately warned about the toxic side effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the products, which have been blamed for cases of uterine cancerovarian canceruterine fibroids and other complications.

As part of the coordinated management of the litigation, Judge Rowland is expected to eventually establish a bellwether process, where small groups of representative hair relaxer injury lawsuits 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.

While the outcomes of any early bellwether trials will not have any binding impact on other claims, the average hair relaxer injury payouts awarded by juries for different types of injury, and against the manufacturers of different specific products, is expected to have a large impact on the amounts of any settlement offers that may be made to avoid the need for each individual case to go before a jury.

If the parties fail to negotiate hair relaxer injury settlements following the MDL proceedings before Judge Rowland, each claim may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it originally would have been brought for future trial dates.


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