Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit | December 2022

Robert Hundley

Our lawyers are reviewing hair relaxer lawsuits in all 50 states.  Our focus is on

Our law firm is concentrating our efforts on:

Our attorneys are also reviewing chemical hair straightener lawsuits involving Optimum Salon, and other hair perms and hair straightener products.

Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit Update

Our law firm has been and will be the leading source of news, updates, and information about hair relaxer lawsuits in this country.  Our attorneys are committed to keeping our clients and other victims informed.  So bookmark this page and come back for the latest information.

December 29, 2022: New Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

Just before Christmas, a new hair relaxer lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Northern District of Illinois.  In Sanders v. Loreal, a uterine cancer lawsuit, is filed against the most common plantiffs in this litigation:

  • L’Oreal is the parent company of Softsheen-Carson, Inc., which makes Dark & Lovely, Optimum, and other brands
  • Strength of Nature, LLC (a subsidiary of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd.) manufactures the Just for Me and Motions line of relaxer products.
  • Namaste Laboratories LLC is the subsidiary of Dabur Ltd., which makes the popular ORS line of hair relaxer products.

December 26, 2022: Hair Relaxer Litigation Continues to Grow

With the class action ruling expected in four weeks, the hair relaxer litigation continues to grow.  At least five more hair relaxer lawsuits have been filed in federal courts in December.

Four of the cases were brought in the Northern District of Illinois, and 1 was filed in the Southern District of Ohio. Two of these cases allege uterine fibroids as the primary injury, and the other 3 are uterine cancer cases. If this pace of new filings continues, there should be around 25 hair relaxer lawsuits pending by the time the JPML decides on the MDL next month.

These current number of lawsuit belies how many hair relaxer lawsuits our attorneys expect will be brought in an eventual class action.  Our law firm has over 1,000 clients in a very short period of time.  There will likely be over 100,000 suits filed in this litigation. This may ultimately be one of the largest class action lawsuits in American history.

December 20, 2022: Hearing Set on Class Action Motion

On January 23, 2023, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will hold a hearing to decide whether to consolidate the hair relaxer lawsuits in the federal courts into a new class action MDL. A group of hair relaxer plaintiffs filed a motion requesting consolidation back in November. L’Oreal and the rest of the hair relaxer defendants are strongly opposed to consolidation, however, and will voice those objections at the hearing next month.

December 13, 2022: New Uterine Cancer Lawsuit

A recently filed hair relaxer lawsuit, Brownlee v. LÓreal USA, Inc., et al. (3:22-cv-336), was filed in the Southern District of Ohio.  The case was brought by an Ohio resident who alleges that she used chemical hair relaxer products continuously and regularly starting when she was just 15 in 1973.

The suit identifies three specific hair relaxer products which Brownlee allegedly used: Dark & Lovely, Optimum, and Just for Me. The hair straightener lawsuit does not provide specific dates for when Brownlee used each particular product. Brownlee was diagnosed with uterine cancer in September 2010, when she was 52 years old.

The defendants named in the Brownlee Complaint include LÓreal, Strength of Nature LLC, and Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. (the parent company of Strength of Nature). Numerous causes of action are asserted against each defendant, including strict liability, failure to warn, and general negligence.

December 9, 2022: Defendants Oppose MDL

L’Oreal and other cosmetic company defendants filed a Response this week stating that they are opposed to the consolidation of the hair relaxer lawsuits into a class action MDL. In its reply, L’Oreal argues that consolidation is not appropriate because the various hair relaxer cases do not involve common allegations or questions of fact.

From where we are sitting, this is a crazy assertion.  So many women call our lawyers every day looking to file a hair straightener lawsuit. Their stories are both sad and similar.

If the JPML grants the request and consolidates the hair relaxer cases, L’Oreal argues that the most appropriate forum for the MDL would be the Southern District of New York where L’Oreal is headquartered as opposed to Illinois.  Our lawyers believe these suits will be successful in New York, Illinois, or anywhere else.

December 8, 2022:  New Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

The first hair relaxer lawsuit involving injuries other than uterine cancer was recently filed in the Southern District of Georgia (Gamble v. Strength of Nature Global, LLC, et al. (4:22-cv-00256)).

The plaintiff alleges that she developed uterine fibroids at age 22 after continuously using hair relaxer products at the age of just 6. Her uterine fibroids caused extreme pain and she underwent surgery to remove them in 2011. The uterine fibroids occurred again just 8 years later.

The lawsuit names L’Oreal and a group of other cosmetic companies as defendants and claims that Gamble’s use of hair relaxers made by the defendants caused her to develop uterine fibroids.

November 27, 2022: Who Are the Chemical Hair Straightener Defendants?

So far, L’oreal is the only big-name company that has been identified as a defendant in the hair relaxer cancer lawsuits.  Loreal is worth nearly 190 billion.

Other major corporations make hair relaxer products that are likely to be brought into the litigation. The two biggest companies in the hair relaxer market that have not been brought into the litigation so far are Unilever and Proctor & Gamble. Unilever hair relaxer brands include Sunsilk and Just For Me. P&G’s leading relaxer brand is Ultra Sheen. Unilever has a market cap of $123 billion and P&G’s market cap is $344 billion.  So we are looking at deep-pocket defendants that can pay reasonable settlement compensation payouts. We expect all of these companies to end up as key defendants in the evolving hair relaxer cancer litigation.

November 21, 2022: Medical Monitoring Class Action Sought

A new hair relaxer class action lawsuit was filed last week in Michigan seeking to establish a medical monitoring program for women who have used chemical hair relaxer products for many years.

The lawsuit was filed by a group of plaintiffs who allege that they (and thousands of other women) are now at increased risk of cancer due to their use of the defendants’ hair relaxer products. Instead of money damages, this lawsuit seeks to force the defendants to pay for a program that will monitor the health of members of the plaintiff class in the hopes of intervening with early medical treatment. This medical monitoring case comes in the same week that the JPML was asked to consolidate the hair relaxer cancer cases into a new MDL class action.

This lawsuit may have merit.  Are our hair relaxer lawyers involved in these cases?  We are not.  Our focus is on women who have been harmed by hair relaxers, not people that will maybe one day be harmed.  There is a big difference.  So many women have been harmed – many more than our attorneys predicted when we first got involved.  So while a medical monitoring class action may have merit, our battle is for those women who have suffered from these chemicals that never should have been in hair relaxers.

November 16, 2022: New Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit Sought

November 15, 2022, lawyers representing a group of plaintiffs who have filed hair relaxer cancer lawsuits filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) requesting consolidation of the hair relaxer lawsuits into a new, class action lawsuit.

The motion notes that there are nine hair relaxer cases involving thirteen individual plaintiffs pending in four different federal district courts. All of the cases allege that hair relaxer products caused uterine cancer.  The motion also points out that we have long known that hair relaxers cause burns that give these toxic chemicals an easy path to the body.

The motion requests that the MDL be assigned to Judge Mary Rowland in the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago). The defendants named in the motion include L’Oreal USA, Inc. and a handful of smaller, non-public companies. The defendants will most likely agree to the class action – there will be so many hair relaxer lawsuits filed in the next few months –  but will probably request an alternative venue that they view as more favorable than Chicago.

What would be a jury pool more favorable to defendants?  I’ll say it out loud.  Defendants in these kinds of cases prefer jurisdictions that have fewer Black people on the jury.  The federal court in Chicago would be fair to plaintiffs and defendants.

New Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

A product liability lawsuit was filed last week against cosmetic company L’Oreal. It is the first of many hair relaxer cancer lawsuits that will be filed.  The suit alleges that chemicals in the company’s hair relaxer products caused uterine cancer. This lawsuit and others like it may pave the way for a hair relaxer class action that alleges these products cause uterine cancer.

In this post, we will look at the allegations in this in this suit, including the scientific evidence on causation.  Our attorneys also discuss the likelihood of more hair-relaxer lawsuits and what the potential per person settlement amounts for a chemical hair straightener lawsuit might be.

Hair Relaxer Products

Hair relaxers are a group of cosmetic products that are primarily used by African American women to relax, flatten and straighten their hair.

All hair, regardless of ethnic origin, shares common characteristics in its chemical makeup and molecular structure. The hair shaft, lying in the center and growing up through the follicle, emerges from the scalp as threadlike structures. These hair fibers are each composed of three distinct regions: the cuticle, and the outermost area consisting of lamellar layers of structural tissue. The cortex, the inner area comprising the bulk of the fiber, and the medulla (the innermost area lying at the center of the fiber).

High PH Systems

Hair relaxers are high-pH systems containing a strong alkali and are formulated as thick cream emulsions. Chemical hair relaxers are applied to the base of the hair and left in place for a “cooking” interval.  The bonds found in the hair are located within the keratin proteins. The most important type of bond found in the hair is the disulfide bond, also known as the cysteine bond.

Keratin is very sensitive to increases or decreases in the hydrogen ion concentration (or pH) of its environment. Although it is relatively resistant to the action of acids, keratin can be broken down by high-pH alkali solutions. This property is precisely what is exploited during relaxing.

How Hair Relaxers Work

The chemicals in hair relaxers are applied to the base of the hair shaft.  After the marination period, the hair relaxer changes the hair’s texture by compromising the hair’s protein structure. The effect of this protein damage straightens and smooths the hair.

After a period of weeks (4 – 8 weeks on average), depending on the hair’s natural growth rate, the treated portion of the hair grows away from the scalp as new growth sprouts from the roots, requiring additional relaxer treatment to smooth the roots.

These additional treatments are colloquially referred to in the community as “re-touches”, resulting in women relaxing their new growth every four to eight weeks on average, usually for decades.

The application loosens the hair’s tight curls and removes its kinkiness through a chemical reaction that breaks the disulfide bonds in the hair.  This potent mix of chemicals in the products attacks the protein structure of the hair causing it to flatten.

Hair Relaxer Class Action

The first hair relaxer lawsuits were filed at the end of October 2022. These initial lawsuits were filed in federal courts in several different districts (Illinois, California, and New York) against L’Oreal and other cosmetic companies that manufacture hair relaxer products. Since then, several more hair relaxer personal injury lawsuits have been filed in federal courts across the country. The chart below lists those cases filed as of December 2022.

11/22/22 Jackie Brownlee S.D. Ohio Dark & Lovely Uterine Cancer
3:22-cv-336 Optimum
Just for Me
11/2/22 Bernadette Gordon N.D. Illinois Dark & Lovely Uterine Cancer
1:22-cv-6033 Just for Me Breast Cancer
11/1/22 Timika Smith N.D. Illinois Dark & Lovely Uterine Cancer
Just for Me
Cantu Shea Butter
11/3/22 Diane Grant N.D. Illinois Care Free Curl Uterine Cancer
1:22-cv-6113 Optimum
Dark & Lovely
11/2/22 Shaquita Davis N.D. Illinois ORS Olive Oil Uterine Fibroids
1:22-cv-6560 Motions Endometriosis
Just for Me
10/26/22 Keaira Gamble S.D. Georgia Just for Me Uterine Fibroids
4:22-cv-256 Motions Endometriosis
ORS Olive Oil
10/26/22 Mahogany Lee S.D. Georgia Dark & Lovely Uterine Fibroids
4:22-cv-257 Optimum
African Pride
10/26/22 Terry Moore N.D. Illinois Dark & Lovely Uterine Cancer
1:22-cv-6785 Motions
ORS Olive Oil
10/21/22 Rugieyatu Bhonopha N.D. California Dark & Lovely Uterine Fibroids
3:22-cv-6395 Just for Me
ORS Olive Oil
10/21/22 Rhonda Terrell S.D. New York Motions Uterine Cancer
1:22-cv-9008 Dark & Lovely
Soft & Beautiful
10/21/22 Jenny Mitchell N.D. Illinois Motions Uterine Cancer
1:22-cv-5815 ORS Olive Oil
Dark & Lovely

In addition to these hair relaxer cases alleging personal injuries, several consumer class action hair relaxer cases have also been filed.

A group of plaintiffs have already filed a motion with the JPML asking for the hair relaxer cases in federal courts to be consolidated into a new class action MDL. L’Oreal and the other defendants have opposed this request, but it will most likely be granted anyway. If the JPML grants the motion, all future hair relaxer lawsuits in federal courts will be consolidated into a new class action MDL.

EDCs and Phthalates in Hair Relaxers

According to the Complaint in the Mitchell case, hair relaxer products are known to contain very high levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (“EDCs”). EDCs are chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system and interfere with hormone receptors.

The other problematic chemical in hair relaxers is phthalates. Phthalates often called “plasticizers,” are a type of chemicals that are used to help make certain plastics more durable. Phthalates are commonly used in a wide variety of cosmetic products, including chemical hair relaxer. Phthalates are EDCs that are known to interfere with natural hormone production.


The hair relaxer products manufactured by the defendants all contained phthalates, including Di-2- ethyl hexyl phthalate (“DEHP”). DEHP is a highly toxic manufactured chemical. It is not found naturally in the environment.

DEHP is considered a carcinogen. It is known to cause significant adverse-health effects including endometriosis, developmental abnormalities, reproductive dysfunction and infertility, and various cancers.

Other chemicals in hair straightening products include formaldehyde and parabens.  Which of these toxins in hair relaxers most contribute to causing cancer?  We are still figuring that out.

Why use these chemicals in hair relaxers?  It works and it is cheap.  Every Dark & Lovely lawsuit and other hair relaxer lawsuits will allege the manufacturer knew of the risks. Yet they did nothing to prevent these women from getting cancer because it was cheaper and easier to use cancer-causing chemicals.  If this is the evidence that a jury hears at trial, you will see large jury payouts that will ultimately lead to a significant class action hair relaxer settlement.

Lack of Federal Oversight

Making matters worse, the government provides little control over chemicals used for perms and hair straighteners.  Yes, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act requires an ingredient declaration on cosmetic products.  But the FDA is not minding the store.  Compounding the problem, there is no law requiring the listing of the individual fragrance or flavors, or ingredients. So potentially cancer-causing phthalates are not listed as long as they are combined with a fragrance.  It is ridiculous and hair relaxer lawsuits might be a catalyst for a change in the law.  Until then, consumers do not know the ingredient declaration if phthalates are in the product they are using.

Uterine Cancer

There are two different types of uterine cancer: endometrial and sarcoma. Endometrial uterine cancer is much more common and more treatable. The sarcoma type of uterine cancer is less common, but it is much more aggressive and difficult to treat.

Uterine cancer is a relatively common type of cancer. Around 65,000 new cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S. This equates to around 3.5{5c5ba01e4f28b4dd64874166358f62106ea5bcda869a94e59d702fa1c9707720} of all new cancer cases annually. Around 12,500 women died from uterine cancer each year, which accounts for about 2{5c5ba01e4f28b4dd64874166358f62106ea5bcda869a94e59d702fa1c9707720} of cancer-related deaths.

The overall 5-year survival rate for uterine cancer is comparatively high at 81{5c5ba01e4f28b4dd64874166358f62106ea5bcda869a94e59d702fa1c9707720}. However, the sarcoma type of uterine cancer is much more aggressive and has a lower survival rate.

Uterine cancer has long been assumed to be caused by phthalate metabolites found in hair perms and relaxer products.

Connection Between Uterine Cancer and Hair Relaxers

The hair relaxer uterine cancer lawsuit in Mitchell alleges that “uterine cancer is associated with phthalate metabolites found in hair care products.” Uterine cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer in women. The incidence rate of uterine cancer in black women is twice that of white women in the United States.

The Complaint cites a significant medical study that recently found that women who used chemical hair relaxer products have a higher risk of contracting uterine cancer. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October 2022. The study found that an estimated 1.64{5c5ba01e4f28b4dd64874166358f62106ea5bcda869a94e59d702fa1c9707720} of women who never used chemical hair straighteners or relaxers would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70.

Here is the key statistic that makes you stop in your tracks:  for frequent users, that risk more than doubles, increasing to 4.05{5c5ba01e4f28b4dd64874166358f62106ea5bcda869a94e59d702fa1c9707720}.

Hair Relaxer and Breast Cancer

In addition to causing uterine cancer, there is a well-developed body of scientific research establishing that the use of chemical hair relaxer products or hair perms may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Two separate studies published in 2021 concluded that regular use of chemical hair relaxers increases the risk of developing breast cancer by 30{5c5ba01e4f28b4dd64874166358f62106ea5bcda869a94e59d702fa1c9707720}. The scientific evidence on the causal link between breast cancer and hair relaxer appears to be strong enough to support product liability lawsuits.

Do Hair Perms Come Also Have Uterine Cancer and Other Risks?

Getting a hair perm may expose you to the same risks as you would using a hair relaxer.  Why?  Because many of the same cancer-causing toxins in hair chemicals are used during hair smoothing treatments at the salon.  So may also see hair perm lawsuits flowing from this litigation.

Is There a Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit?

There is not a hair relaxer class action lawsuit as of December 2022.  But there will be a hearing on whether there will be a federal hair relaxer class action lawsuit on January 23, 2022.

So right now, our lawyers are looking at these as individual hair relaxer lawsuits, not a class action.  But given the volume of new cases our law firm has been getting, a class action for hair relaxer victims already seems inevitable.

Potential Settlement Amounts for Hair Relaxer Uterine Cancer Lawsuits

It is very premature to speculate on how much hair relaxer uterine cancer lawsuits could be worth at trial or in a settlement. The case filed by Jenny Mitchell this week is the first product liability lawsuit claiming hair relaxer caused cancer. We still don’t know whether the scientific causation evidence in these cases will hold up in court. But the scientific evidence our lawyers have reviewed looks unbelievably strong which is why you are seeing so many lawyers putting up television commercials for victims with uterine cancer or other injuries who are looking to bring a hair relaxer lawsuit.

With the caveat that it is early in the hair straightener litigation, we can still speculate on the likely settlement amounts of these cases. If we assume that the causation evidence linking chemicals in hair relaxer to uterine cancer is adequate, our lawyers believe that a strong uterine cancer case could have a potential settlement payout between $300,000 to $1,750,000. Cases involving particularly young plaintiffs (such as Jenny Mitchell) could be worth significantly more since uterine cancer typically results in permanent infertility.

Uterine Cancer Settlements and Verdicts

Below are summaries of settlements and verdicts from prior cases in which uterine cancer was the primary injury. This might give us a lens to settlement amounts and jury payouts for a hair relaxer or hair perm lawsuit.  These are not product liability lawsuits. They are medical malpractice cases in which the plaintiffs are alleging that the doctor negligently failed to diagnose uterine cancer.

  • $1,800,000 Settlement (Illinois 2020): failure to diagnose uterine cancer in a 41-year-old plaintiff from Chicago resulted in a 4-year delay in treatment allowing cancer to progress.
  • $500,000 Settlement (Washington 2018): failure to diagnose due to poor communication resulting in a 5-month delay of uterine cancer in a 71-year-old plaintiff with a prior history of cancer.
  • $600,000 Settlement (New York 2015): failure to send an ultrasound report caused a delay in the diagnosis of uterine cancer in a 35-year-old woman. Despite the young age of the plaintiff, the settlement amount is likely lower because she did not plan on having more children.
  • $430,000 Settlement (Minnesota 2014): doctor settled the case for allegedly failing to diagnose uterine cancer in a 60-year-old patient resulting in a 2-year delay and progression of cancer to stage 3C.
  • $1,750,000 Settlement (Massachusetts 2013): failure to diagnose uterine cancer in 52-year-old plaintiff resulting in the spread of cancer to lungs and progression to terminal stage.

There are different issues in these lawsuits – mostly medical malpractice – that you would see in a hair straightener lawsuit against O’Loreal or another one of these defendants.  But malpractice cases are often hard to prove. If these claims are strong, the harm is serious and the settlement amount could be very high.

Contact Us About Filing a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit

Our firm is currently investigating product liability cases alleging that chemicals in hair perm and hair relaxer products cause uterine cancer. If you were diagnosed with uterine cancer after years of regularly using a chemical hair straightener, contact our office today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.

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