According to a decision made on Monday by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, over 60 lawsuits alleging that hair relaxer products provided by L’Oréal USA Inc. and other businesses cause cancer and other health issues will be combined in federal court in Chicago.
According to court records, at least 57 cases have been brought against the products, which use chemicals to permanently straighten textured hair, in federal courts around the nation. According to the claims, the businesses marketed and sold their products despite knowing they included hazardous chemicals.
The actions will be consolidated into a multidistrict litigation before U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland, which will streamline discovery procedures and other pretrial matters for the cases, per the ruling.
The complaints mention the US-based L’Oréal SA subsidiary as well as the Godrej SON Holdings Inc. and Dabur International Ltd. businesses that are situated in India. Requests for response from representatives of the corporations, who opposed the centralization of the proceedings, were not immediately returned.
After the initial complaints were submitted, L’Oréal released a statement on its website in which it stated that it is “confident in the safety of our products and believes the recent cases brought against us have no legal basis.”
Following the publication of a National Institutes of Health research in October that revealed women who used the items frequently had a more than doubled risk of developing uterine cancer, the lawsuits have been filed.
At a hearing last month, Diandra Debrosse Zimmermann of DiCello Levitt, who brought the initial complaint after the study’s publication, pleaded with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to refer the cases to Rowland.
The panel’s ruling, according to Debrosse Zimmermann, “identified the clear benefits of centralising the hair relaxer lawsuit,” and she anticipates that many more businesses will file their cases in the upcoming weeks.
As the goods are often promoted to women of colour, she predicts that hundreds of women may end up suing over them.