Hair relaxer manufacturers, on July 5, filed a motion to dismiss the master complaint in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) regarding chemical hair relaxing and hair straightening products.
The motion to dismiss the master complaint argues that the complaint does not adequately identify specific compounds, formulations or products which injured the plaintiffs involved in the MDL.
The master complaint alleges that hundreds have women have developed cancer because they used chemical hair straightening or relaxing products. Around 250 lawsuits have been filed in the MDL so far.
Motion To Dismiss Claims Master Complaint Is Insufficient
The motion to dismiss alleges that the master complaint is insufficient, as specific formulations and products were not identified regarding each individual injury’s cause, and the complaint fails in laying out how each individual hair relaxer product is defective.
The motion notes that a scientific study that the lawsuits in the MDL reference fails to identify any specific manufacturers or products. The motion notes that the study only covers uterine cancer, yet the lawsuits allege that hair relaxing and straightening products caused far more conditions, such as preterm delivery, miscarriage, fibroids, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
The motion notes that the master complaint does not identify a single specific product that the plaintiffs used, or how specific products harmed them, or how specific products are defective. The motion notes that the master complaint merely mentions brand names such as Africa’s Best, Motions, and Optimum.
The motion claims that “defendants should not be forced to guess which products were used.” The motion claims that plaintiffs must be required to identify specific products which allegedly caused them to become ill.
The motion claims that the master complaint’s 15 causes of action are invalid because the master complaint fails to identify specific compounds, formulations or products.
Master Complaint Claims Chemical Hair Relaxers And Straighteners Cause Cancer
The master complaint in the MDL was filed on May 15. It alleges that chemical hair straighteners and relaxers caused plaintiffs to develop cancer and other conditions.
The complaint alleges that the manufacturers of these products engaged in “wrongful marketing practices,” including systematically misrepresenting the health impacts of using their products.
The complaint claims that the manufacturers of these products exposed the public to “brutally toxic products” while failing to warn the public about the dangers associated with the products. The complaint accuses defendants of targeting children with their advertising while knowing that their products were toxic and carcinogenic.
The complaint alleges that chemical hair relaxing and straightening products can cause ovarian and uterine cancer. The complaint claims this is due to ingredients which can harm or disrupt women’s endocrine systems, such as phthalates, cyclosiloxanes, parabens, octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane, di-(2-ethylhexyl), formaldehyde, lye and other ingredients.
The complaint alleges that even slight disruptions to the endocrine system can cause health effects such as cancer, infertility, reproductive impairment, metabolic syndrome, immune disorders, and cognitive deficits.
The complaint claims that some chemical hair relaxing and straightening products contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) which can block the stimulus of hormones and that these EDCs can enter the human body through the scalp.
The complaint makes particular note of a type of EDC known as phthalates, which the complaint claims can interfere with the natural production of hormones and can harm human health.
The complaint notes that phthalates are used in fragrances in hair straightening and relaxing products, and since regulations don’t necessitate that individual ingredients in fragrances be listed, this allows manufacturers to hide the presence of phthalates from their product labels.
The complaint alleges that chemical hair relaxers and straighteners can cause uterine cancer, noting a 2022 scientific study which found an association between the products and uterine cancer. That study found that women who used hair relaxers were about twice as likely to develop uterine cancer than women who didn’t use hair relaxers. The complaint notes that uterine cancer’s development is driven by hormones, and that the disease can be caused by an imbalance of progesterone and estrogen.
The complaint also alleges that chemical hair straighteners and relaxers can cause ovarian cancer, noting a 2021 scientific study which found an association between the products and ovarian cancer. The study found that using chemical hair straighteners or relaxers more than four times per year caused women’s risk of developing ovarian cancer to more than double. The complaint notes that it is believed that the development of ovarian cancer is driven by hormones, alleging that compounds that disrupt hormones may cause ovarian cancer. The complaint notes that chemical hair relaxing and straightening products contain numerous compounds that disrupt hormones, such as parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, metals and cyclosiloxanes.
The complaint alleges that, under current regulatory frameworks, manufacturers of chemical hair relaxing and straightening products have a duty to assess their products’ safety and warn consumers about all health hazards related to their products. The complaint claims that, despite this duty, the defendants in the MDL failed to:
- Tell the public about the high risk of dangerous side effects related to their products
- Tell the public that their products contained known or potential carcinogens or toxic chemicals
- Tell the public they failed to properly test their products’ safety
- Tell the public they failed to properly research their products’ safety
Master Complaint Names Multiple Causes Of Action
The master complaint seeks to recover financial compensation for plaintiffs based on numerous causes of action:
Negligence And/Or Gross Negligence
Negligence is failing to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm.
The complaint alleges that manufacturers of chemical hair relaxers and straighteners were negligent by:
- Not properly testing products
- Designing defective products which injured people when used as intended
- Not telling the public how to safely use their products
- Not recalling their products when they knew their products were dangerous and/or defective
- Marketing their products as being safe when they knew or should have known they were not safe
The complaint alleges that the defendants negligently misrepresented the safety of their products by claiming their products were safe when their products can actually cause cancer.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is negligence by virtue of breaking the law. The complaint alleges the defendants committed negligence per se by violating several statutes, including:
- 21 U.S.C. § 331
- 21 U.S.C. § 361
- 21 U.S. Code § 362
- 21 CFR Part 740
Strict Liability: Design Defect
The complaint alleges that the defendants’ products are defective by design because they can cause uterine cancer and ovarian cancer even when manufactured and used properly. The complaint alleges the products are unreasonably dangerous as they are designed since the danger associated with their design outweighs the design’s benefits when the products are used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable way.
Strict Liability: Failure To Warn
The complaint alleges that the defendants knew or should have known that their hair relaxing and straightening products can cause cancer but failed to warn the public about this risk.
Breach Of Implied Warranty
The complaint claims that the defendants impliedly warranted that their products were safe to use when, in fact, the products are not safe to use as they can cause cancer.
Breach Of Express Warranty
The complaint claims that the defendants expressly warranted that their chemical hair relaxer and straightener products were safe to use when, in fact, the products are not safe for use since they can cause cancer.
The complaint alleges that the defendants “willfully deceived” the public by marketing their products as safe to use while knowing that their products can actually cause cancer.
The complaint alleges that the defendants committed fraud by hiding from the public knowledge that their products could cause cancer.
U.S. State And Territory Statutory Consumer Protection And Unfair Or Deceptive Trade Practices Claims
The complaint accuses the defendants of engaging in unfair competition, as well as fraudulent, deceptive, unconscionable or unfair practices or acts in violation of various territory and state consumer protection statutes.
The complaint alleges that the defendants wrongly profited by marketing products in a way that implied that they were safe all while knowing that those products could actually cause cancer.
Wrongful Death And Survival Action
The complaint alleges that some plaintiffs died from cancer as a result of using chemical hair straightening and relaxing products and seeks to recover financial compensation on behalf of the deceased plaintiffs’ loved ones.
Loss Of Consortium
The complaint seeks to recover compensation for plaintiffs based on the loss of the benefits associated with having a spousal or family relationship caused by the defendants’ products.
The complaint seeks to recover punitive damages for the plaintiffs in order to punish the defendants for their reckless, malicious, wanton and/or willful conduct and deter others from similar conduct in the future.
Hair Relaxer Lawyers
Nadrich & Cohen is representing those who have been diagnosed with the following after using chemical hair straightening or relaxing products:
- Uterine cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Uterine fibroids necessitating inpatient surgery
- Uterine sarcoma
Our experienced lawyers have been handling product liability cases since 1990. We have recovered over $350,000,000 on behalf of our clients.
We are contingency fee lawyers, meaning we will not charge you a fee until and unless we win your case.
If you can’t afford medical treatment, we can get you to doctors who will give you treatment and who won’t charge you for it until your case is over.
Call us today for a free consultation. You may qualify for financial compensation in a hair relaxer lawsuit.