Status of Hair Relaxer Lawsuits Discussed at MDL Conference

More than 100 lawsuits over hair relaxers have already been filed, and it is expected that thousands of additional claims will be brought in the coming months and years.

The U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over all federal hair relaxer lawsuits held a status conference today, meeting with lawyers involved in the litigation to discuss key topics central to moving the litigation forward, including how to best approach causation issues, as a growing number of women file lawsuits alleging the developed uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and other injuries.

According to a docket report (PDF) issued this week, there are already more than 100 product liability lawsuit filed against the makers of Dark & Lovely, Just for Me, Optimum, ORS Olive Oil and other widely used chemical hair straighteners, each raising similar allegations that women were not adequately warned about the link between use of hair relaxer and cancer.

However, lawyers anticipate that thousands of additional cases will be brought in the coming weeks and months, given the widespread use of the hair relaxers and perms, which were specifically targeted to women in the Black community.


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Since each of the claims raise common questions of fact and law, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided earlier this year to consolidate and centralize all hair relaxer lawsuits in a MDL (Multidistrict Litigation), and appointed U.S. District Judge Mary M. Rowland to preside over coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings out of the Northern District of Illinois.

Judge Rowland held a status conference today, to discuss matters outlined in a joint status report (PDF) submitted by lead counsel for plaintiffs and defendants on April 14, including recent activity in the litigation, and unresolved issues between the parties about how the pretrial proceedings should be structured.

The parties indicated that one of the main issues to be discussed with the court is how to best handle issues of causation; with claims linking hair relaxer chemicals to various different types of cancer, as well as uterine fibroids, endometriosis and other adverse health effects. Defendants have called for the court to consider general causation first, before allowing discovery on other other issues. However, plaintiffs are opposed to a bifurcated approach to causation issues, indicating that it will unnecessarily delay the proceedings.

If an agreement can not be reached, the parties proposed filing a series of briefs, outlining the arguments in favor of and against conducting general causation first. Those briefs would be filed within 21 days of the conference, with responsive briefs due 14 days later.

In addition, the parties asked the court to discuss how to best coordinate hair relaxer lawsuits filed in state and federal courts, in order to improve efficiency and reduce duplicative discovery in the proceedings.

The conference was also expected to cover scheduling future case management conferences, an update on the recent bankruptcy by Revlon, and other issues.

April 2023 Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Status

Each of the complaints 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.

Find Out If You Qualify for Hair Relaxer Compensation


  • Miss La'May 6, 2023 at 4:47 pm

    In 2003, I contacted the manufacturer tland informed them of that I developed severe ENT problems and other medical issues due to the hair relaxers. The manufacturer sent a claims representative out to my home, interviewed me, looked my ENT medical records and concluded that the hair relaxer was not responsible for my illnesses. In 2003, during the interview, I advised that the company devel[Show More]In 2003, I contacted the manufacturer tland informed them of that I developed severe ENT problems and other medical issues due to the hair relaxers. The manufacturer sent a claims representative out to my home, interviewed me, looked my ENT medical records and concluded that the hair relaxer was not responsible for my illnesses. In 2003, during the interview, I advised that the company develop an ear muff style disposable product to protect the inner ears from the harmful relaxer entering the ear canals during rinsing. They knew 20 years ago that their hair relaxer products were harmful, toxic, causes harm to users [African American] females and they swept the problems under the rug and kept depositing AA women's money in their business accounts. I have had several medical issues from 2003 - 2023. Hysterectomy surgery due to multiple fibroid tumors, gall bladder removal, 4 months blood spotting after years of hysterectomy & fibroid tumors, estrogen issues extreme vertigo and recurring ear infections. The relaxer company KNEW 20 YEARS AGO and did not take responsibility then and DO NOT want to take responsibility NOW if they aren't held liable for their products that HARMS AA women. All products need to be banned and removed from the shelves. AA women should NOT spend our purchasing power to support BIG BEAUTY Industries to poison use and embomb us early. It's like they left us for dead already while we still live. Justice must be served for the AA women and the ball will not be dropped. All eyes are on this one. GOD knows we have suffered enough trying to be accepted by America The Beautiful. Amen. FB - Bayou Beauty

  • RachelMay 4, 2023 at 9:59 pm

    I used L’Oréal hair relaxer for years. Ended up with uterine fibroids that caused constant heavy bleeding and severely painful cramps. Had to have hysterectomy at 29 years old because of this.

  • JettieApril 24, 2023 at 10:40 pm

    It might take years for a hair relaxed settlement. Nobody want to wait for years to get money from a settlement.Lawyers is not saying when will they geta claimant somemoney.The lawyers not even agreeing on the case.Each !lawyers should handle their own hair relaxercases and try to get a settlement.. We donotwant to wait on a settlement for the next 3or 5 years later....

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