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Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Timeline and Updates

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Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Updates

As millions of Americans continue to use hair relaxer products, more and more information is coming out about the harmful effects of chemical straighteners. Research has shown that exposure to the chemicals found in hair relaxers can lead to uterine, ovarian, or endometrial cancers. Those who have used hair relaxer products for prolonged periods are now filing product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers. The hair relaxer class action MDL (multidistrict litigation) is gaining traction and is centered in Illinois under the guidance of Judge Mary Rowland

Our attorneys are committed to staying abreast of updates and keeping you informed. 

Continue to check back for the latest information.

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Hair Relaxer MDL Timeline

December 18, 2023 – MDL Growth Continues but Slows Down

17 new cases were added to the MDL in December. There are now 7,984 pending cases.

November 28, 2023 – 11% MDL Common Benefit Fund

On November 22, 2023, the plaintiffs’ leadership in the MDL file a motion requesting an order for an 11% common benefit fund holdback. A common benefit fund is established to compensate lawyers for work that benefits all plaintiffs in the MDL. The court creates the fund and pools a portion of any settlements or recoveries from individual cases. The 11% is higher than that seen in previous MDLs – the 3M earplug lawsuit was capped at 9% and 3% for Camp Lejeune

November 21, 2023 – Statute Conference

In Illinois, Judge Mary M. Rowland conducted a status conference. The following updates came from the conference:

  • A Case Management Order (CMO) was discussed that outline the process for Plaintiffs’ Fact Sheets and Record Authorizations. The court will be notified via email once the CMO is ready to be entered.
  • There is an ongoing disagreement about the scheduling of Science Day. Parties are required to submit cross briefs by December 6, 2023. The briefs cannot exceed 10 pages.
  • The court requested that parties agree on a new briefing schedule for a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. This must be submitted by November 28, 2023.
  • Parties must submit cross-briefs regarding document production concerning products sold outside the U.S. by December 6, 2023. Revlon has until November 27, 2023, to clarify its position on discovery for international products; the document is not to exceed 20 pages.
  • Revlon has agreed to submit all documents pertaining to two specific Requests for Production (RFP) by December 15, 2023. They also have until this date to confirm the non-existence of further documents. Due by the same date, Avalon must respond to Plaintiffs’ Interrogatory 6, detailing a complete ingredient list.
  • Magistrate Judge Finnegan is designated to deal with ESI discovery and related disputes.

     

November 17, 2023 – 7,967 Cases Filed

As of November 17, 2023, nearly 8,000 pending hair relaxer cases are in the class action MDL. Over 2,000 were added in the last month. Since August, there have been roughly 500 new cases per week. 

November 14, 2023 – Motion to Dismiss Rejected

Judge Mary M. Rowland has upheld the majority of claims against many major hair relaxer manufacturers. She found that federal law does not invalidate the plaintiffs’ state law claims, specifically those alleging product liability and negligence. The court did dismiss fraud claims for failing to meet Rule9(b)’s specificity requirements but allowed claims of unfair conduct to proceed. Most importantly, punitive damages are still permitted in the case. State law and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act still meet the standards for continuation concerning warranty claims. 

November 1, 2023 – 11% Requested for Plaintiff Benefit Fund

Lead counsel in the hair relaxer lawsuits wants a sum equivalent to 11% of every case’s gross settlement or verdict. From this, 8% would be allocated to the common benefit work, while the remaining 3% would be to reimburse common benefit expenses. 

This percentage does not impact how much compensation each individual will be awarded.

October 19, 2023 – New Hair Relaxer Rule Proposed by the FDA

The FDA is proposing a new regulation that would ban the use of formaldehyde in all hair relaxer products. Formaldehyde is a known toxic substance and has been linked to numerous types of cancer, including leukemia. It has not been linked to uterine or ovarian cancer.

October 16, 2023 – 3,752 New Cases Filed

Over the past month, 3,752 new hair relaxer cases have been added to the MDL, bringing the total to 5,996.

October 9, 2023 – Plaintiffs Win Discovery Battle

Judge Mary Rowland weighed in on several discovery disputes – she mostly ruled in favor of plaintiffs. One decision required the defendants to produce documents that the defense argued were related to patent-related materials. Defendants have until November 23, 2023, to produce the documents.

September 27, 2023 – Case Management Order No. 9 Issued by Judge Rowland

Judge Mary Rowland issued Case Management Order No. 9 – Service of and Responses to Short Form Complaints (CMO 9). The order details the procedural rules for filing Short Form Complaints by new plaintiffs and responding to SFCs. 

September 1, 2023 – New Defense Counsel

Dabur International (parent company of Namaste Laboratories) replaced its defense team from Kirkland & Ellis LLC with lawyers from Baker & McKenzie LLP.

August 17, 2023 – Master Complaint

The MDL now has a Master Complaint.

August 4, 2023 – Judge Rowland Approves Short Form Complaint

Judge Rowland has entered an official Short Form Complaint (SFC) for all future hair relaxer lawsuit plaintiffs. All new cases can be filed directly in the class action MDL.

July 1, 2023 – Motion to Bifurcate Discovery Filed

Defendants have requested the court to bifurcate and stay all discovery unrelated to general causation. 

May 11, 2023 – Procedure to File

The court issued an order to clarify how to file a new case related to the hair relaxer MDL. 

A new case must be filed separately in the Northern District of Illinois. The filing must mention Judge Mary Rowland and master docket number 23 CV 0818 on the cover sheet. Refer to the format and requirements listed in the Direct Filing Order and Case Management Order No. 2.

April 27, 2023 – Link Between Hair Relaxers and Decreased Fertility

Boston University’s School of Public Health led a study that concluded there was a link between the usage of chemical hair straighteners and relaxers and a decline in fertility. 

April 2023 – Europe Pushes to Ban Hair Relaxers

Politicians and activists in the UK are calling for L’Oreal and other cosmetic companies to remove hair relaxer products from store shelves completely. British organization Level Up published an open letter to cosmetic companies, urging them to take harmful products out of circulation. It was signed by many high-level UK politicians. 

March 31, 2023 – New Order to File Directly

A new order from the Chicago MDL allows plaintiffs to file hair relaxer lawsuits directly in the MDL instead of filing in their home state and waiting for the court to transfer their claim. 

February 7, 2023 – Assignment of Judge Mary Rowland

The hair relaxer litigation has been assigned to Judge Mary Rowland in the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. 

February 6, 2023 – Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit

The hair relaxer class action lawsuit was officially approved byt he JPML Panel. All federal hair relaxer lawsuits will be housed in Illinois. 

January 27, 2023 – Class Action Hearing

The MDL Panel will determine if the hair relaxer lawsuits will be a class action. They will likely rule in February.

January 4, 2023 – New Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Filed in Missouri

A new hair relaxer lawsuit was filed yesterday in Missouri, alleging the products cause uterine cancer. It named L’Oreal USA, Inc., SoftSheen-Carson LLC, Strength of Nature Global, LLC, and Namaste Laboratories, LLC as defendants. 

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In the News

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Make Your Voice Heard

It’s never too late to fight for your rights. Contact us today to explore your options if you have been diagnosed with uterine, ovarian, or endometrial cancer due to hair relaxer use. 

Our team of experienced litigators focuses on cancer-related exposure and has a track record of success. We care about you and your family and holding responsible parties accountable. Your fight is our fight.

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Mike Maienza