Nearly 60 hair relaxer lawsuits against L’Oreal, others

Nearly 60 lawsuits are claiming that hair relaxer products sold by L’Oréal and other companies cause cancer and other health problems, Reuters reported.

Those dozens of lawsuits will be consolidated in a Chicago federal court. 

At least 57 lawsuits have been filed in federal courts across the country over the products, which use chemicals to permanently straighten textured hair. 

The lawsuits claim that the companies knew their products contained dangerous chemicals but marketed and sold them anyway.

The consolidation comes as an order from the U.S. judicial panel on multidistrict litigation.

The companies accused in the multitude of lawsuits opposed the centralization of the cases. 

The cases name the U.S. subsidiary of L’Oreal SA and subsidiaries of India-based companies Godrej SON Holdings Inc and Dabur International Ltd.

In October, the National Institutes of Health published a study that found women who used the products multiple times a year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer.

The publication of this study came following a growing wave of hair relaxer lawsuits by women who have used hair relaxer products for years and were diagnosed with one of these conditions. 

Hair relaxers include chemicals called phthalates, often referred to as “plasticizers”, which are known to disrupt the endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for the production of hormones such as estrogen in women.

Diandra Debrosse Zimmermann of DiCello Levitt, who filed the first case after the study was published, urged the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation at a hearing last month to send the cases to U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland.

Rowland now will oversee the new multi-district litigation, which is meant to streamline discovery efforts and other issues for the case.

Debrosse Zimmermann said the panel’s decision said she expects many more firms to file their cases in the coming weeks. She estimates that thousands of women could end up suing over the products, which are typically marketed to women of color.

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