This article provides the latest updates on the Hair Relaxer lawsuit.
Fob James Law Firm represents victims all over the country with their hair relaxer claims. We are currently taking cases involving uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, or endometrial cancer.
Throughout the hair relaxer litigation, we will post the latest news and updates here.
February 01, 2024 – Plaintiffs Propose Scheduling of Bellwether Trials:
Plaintiff Leadership has proposed that bellwether picks must be made from the pool of cases that have been filed by February 1, 2024. So if a case is filed after February 1st, it will not be eligible to be picked for the bellwether process.
The cases selected for the bellwether process will move forward with discovery and possibly trial. All other cases are basically stayed pending the outcome of the bellwether track cases.
Plaintiff Leadership has proposed that the picks are limited to the three main diseases in this litigation: uterine, ovarian and endometrial cancer. On the other hand, the defendants are proposing a broad category of diseases. Of course, the defendants would prefer diseases in the bellwether process where the science connecting those diseases to the chemical in relaxers is weak.
Plaintiff Leadership has also proposed the following schedule for the bellwether process:
- July 15, 2024 – Deadline for Selection of Bellwether Cases
- November 15, 2024 – Completion of Discovery for Bellwether Cases
- March 21, 2025 – Deadline for Plaintiffs’ Expert Reports
- April 21, 2025 – Deadline for Defendants’ Expert Reports
- May 12, 2025 – Deadline for Plaintiffs’ Expert Rebuttal Reports
- July 18, 2025 – Deadline for Completion of Expert Witness Depositions
Based on this proposed schedule, it appears Plaintiff Leadership is shooting for the first bellwether trials to begin the end of 2025.
January 18, 2024 – Judge Rowland Enters Order Scheduling “Bellwether Trials”
A bellwether trial is a test trial that allows both sides to evaluate strength and weaknesses of key issues in the litigation.
Judge Rowland, who oversees the hair relaxer MDL, recently entered an Order scheduling the first bellwether trial to begin in November 2025 and the second to follow in February 2026.
This is good news as bellwether trials can help facilitate global settlement or resolution.
December 1, 2023 – Plaintiff Leadership Proposes 11% Common Benefit Fund
The Plaintiffs’ leadership in the MDL has asked the Court to award an 11% common benefit fund (CBE). A CBE is a fund created to compensate the Plaintiffs’ attorneys in leadership that do work for the benefit of all claimants.
Here, 11% of the total settlement amounts are placed in an escrow account overseen by the Court. Plaintiffs lawyers in the MDL leadership committees receive a share of the 11%.
November 1, 2023 – New Study Links Hair Relaxers With Cancer
A new study released by Black Women’s Health Study suggests that the use of relaxers increases the chance of estrogen-dependent cancers. For example, the study concluded that long-term use of chemical hair relaxers was associated with a 50% increased risk of uterine cancer among postmenopausal women.
October 20, 2023 – FDA Proposes Banning Hair Relaxers With Formaldehyde
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to ban hair relaxers containing the chemical formaldehyde. This chemical has been linked to cancer and other adverse health issues. The proposed ban is expected to take place in April 2024.
September 3, 2023 – Plaintiffs’ Leadership Focusing On Three Types of Cancer
One common question we get from potential clients is if uterine fibroids qualifies for the MDL. At this point the evidence is much stronger for uterine, ovarian and endometrial cancers. The Plaintiffs’ leadership committee in the MDL is currently not pursuing uterine fibroids as a qualifying condition. This could change down the line. However, the focus of the litigation for now is on uterine, ovarian or endometrial cancers.
August 5, 2023 – Short Form Complaint Approved
The Court approved a Short Form Complaint (“SFC”) for future plaintiffs to use when they file their claims with the MDL. Now, claimants have the option to file a pre-approved complaint rather than a long form complaint. This simplifies the filing process.
July 4, 2023 – Defendants Move to Bifurcate Discovery
Defendants have filed a motion to bifurcate discovery and stay general discovery. In other words, Defendants are seeking to only allow specific discovery on medical causation to go forward. Medical causation is the issue of connecting the chemical to the harm (cancer). This is basically a delay tactic. If discovery is limited to just one issue for the foreseeable future, the overall case would be delayed.
June 3, 2023 – Party Briefs Due On Medical Causation
On June 5, 2023, plaintiffs and defendants must file briefs with the Court addressing medical causation issues. Medical causation has to do with evidence linking the hair relaxer products to the underlying injuries. So far, the evidence linking hair relaxer products to uterine cancer is very strong. It will be interesting to see how defendants argue against causation.
May 1, 2023 – UK Group Calls for Removal of Toxic Ingredients from Hair Relaxers
As lawsuits against hair relaxer makers continue to grow, the UK-based group Level Up has called for L’Oréal and other brands to remove toxic ingredients from their products. In an open letter to L’Oréal, Level Up asks, “Why are lye-based L’Oréal products still being sold when they are risking Black women’s health around the world?” The group challenges “L’Oréal to lead the way in the beauty industry by taking responsibility for the harms caused by your products.”
April 1, 2023 – Direct Filing Order Approved By Judge Rowland
Judge Rowland approved a streamlined process for new complaints file by Plaintiffs. This means that Plaintiffs can now file claims directly filed into the Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), to avoid delays and costs associated with transferring claims from different federal district courts nationwide.
March 21, 2023 – Joint Status Report and Proposed Order on Direct Filing
According to the parties’ most recent joint status report, plaintiffs and defendants are required to submit a proposed order to the court by March 31st on direct filing. If granted, the order will allow plaintiffs to file hair relaxer lawsuits directly into the hair relaxer multi-district litigation (MDL).
Direct filing will simplify and streamline the filing process for new plaintiffs while also making it less expensive than filing a standard federal court lawsuit. This is obviously a very important and necessary step in building the litigation into a major MDL. The proposed order will most likely include a registry system, short form and long form complaint, and plaintiff and defendant fact sheet process similar to many other MDLs.
The joint status report also addresses the possibility of bifurcating (i.e., front loading) the issue of general causation. In layman’s terms, “general causation” is simply the question of whether these hair relaxer products cause uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and other harmful ailments or medical conditions.
The process of front loading the question of general damages is precisely what occurred in the Zantac litigation which ultimately led to an early dismissal in favor of defendants. Time will tell if the hair relaxer MDL’s presiding judge, Judge Mary Rowland (a Trump appointee) follows the same path as the Zantac litigation. Either way, we expect this to be the first major battle of the litigation so far.
March 1, 2023 – First Status Conference in the MDL
Judge Mary Rowland will hold the first status conference on March 2, 2023 with all parties in the new hair relaxer Multi District Litigation (“MDL”). The main concern of the status conference is to discuss preliminary scheduling and the process by which plaintiffs’ counsel leadership committees will be selected.
February 6, 2023 – The MDL is officially formed:
The JPML officially approved Multi District Litigation for the hair relaxer lawsuit in Illinois. A MDL is where many cases are consolidated into one single master case for efficiency purposes. The case has been assigned to Judge Mary Rowland in the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.
We Represent Hair Relaxer Clients Nationwide
Fob James Law Firm is honored to represent victims and their families who have suffered injuries caused by the toxic chemicals in hair relaxer products.
We are ready to aggressively represent you and your family on your claim no matter what state you reside in.
Contact a Hair Relaxer Lawyer For Help
At Fob James Law Firm, our job is to fight for your best interests. If you’ve suffered an injury as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals in hair relaxer products, you should contact us immediately.
We can determine if you are eligible to file a claim or not. It won’t cost you anything to speak with us.
Additionally, you’ll never pay us anything until we successfully settle or win your case in court. Our Hair Relaxer attorneys are experienced, dedicated, and they truly care about you.