Plaintiffs in the hair relaxer lawsuits who have had their cases consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) have filed a master complaint, which provides a comprehensive list of the allegations that show an association between regular exposure to the synthetic chemicals in hair-relaxer products, also known as hair straighteners.
In 2022, a study led by the National Institutes of Health found that women who frequently used chemical hair straightening or hair relaxer products were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer as women who did not. These findings were the first epidemiologic evidence of an association between the use of straightening products and uterine cancer.
The plaintiffs in the hair straightener lawsuits, the majority of whom are African-American women, allegate that the manufacturers of the hair relaxer products knew that phthalates, including di-2-ethylhexylphthalate and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), are associated with adverse health conditions.
Filed in May, the master complaint for the MDL, which is supervised by Judge Mary Rowlan in the Northern District of Illinois, asserts that L’Oreal, Revlon, and other manufacturers of hair-care products “sold, distributed, advertised, and promoted toxic hair relaxer products that caused Plaintiffs to develop uterine and other types of cancers.”
When there are many lawsuits about the same issue, the plaintiffs may file a "master complaint." This complaint combines all the individual cases into one big case. The court that is in charge of handling all these cases, called the transferee court, can consider this master complaint as if it replaces all the separate cases during the early stages of the legal process.
This special rule helps the court litigate the lawsuits more efficiently. The court might ask the plaintiffs to create a single complaint that includes all the important information from each individual case. Then, the court can deal with some aspects of the case by looking at this master complaint instead of dealing with each case separately.
The plaintiffs allege that using hair relaxers caused them to develop or increased the risk of developing uterine, ovarian, or breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or other chronic reproductive system injuries. The defendants are also accused of inadequately testing their products and failing to conduct post-market surveillance.
Currently, no trial dates have been set for the hair straightener MDL.
If hair straightener products have harmed you or a loved one, you can see if you qualify for compensation here.