Multiple chemical hair straightener companies facing product liability lawsuits together filed a motion July 5 asking for the claims to be dismissed. They argued that in their lawsuit, litigants failed to name specific products and the harm their products are alleged to have caused.

“Defendants should not be forced to guess which products were used by plaintiffs at any given time,” the motion states. “Plaintiffs should be required – as are all other products liability plaintiffs – to identify the specific product they used that allegedly caused their condition.”

In May, lawyers representing plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation filed a master personal injury complaint against 15 manufacturers, including the makers of Dark & Lovely, Just for Me and other popular products.

Claimants allege that the hair straightener companies knew the toxic chemicals used in the products were linked to serious health issues, including cancer, and failed to warn consumers.

Defendants maintain the information in the master complaint failed to meet the burden of proof in many of the claims brought forth in the May complaint.

A master complaint is used as a template and contains factual allegations and legal claims that are shared by all the individual cases in the MDL. Plaintiffs can file short form complaints at a later date to detail their individual specific issues.

Currently there are 241 cases in the MDL, which is being presided over by U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. Lawyers expect many more people to join the MDL. Rowland has yet to make a decision in the case, but an update is expected at the next court date on Aug. 23.

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2022 Study Linked Hair Straightening Chemicals to Cancer

Several hair straightener lawsuits were filed shortly after a 2022 study by the National Institutes of Health that linked the use of chemical hair straighteners and other hair products to uterine cancer. The study showed that women who used the products had more than double the risk of uterine cancer compared to nonusers.

It did not name any specific products or brands, but listed the chemicals linked to uterine cancer, including parabens, bisphenol A, metals and formaldehyde, which are all common ingredients in many hair straightener products. The study also linked harmful endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates in chemical hair relaxer solutions, to reproductive problems. 

Lawsuits filed against manufacturers allege uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, fibroids, miscarriage and preterm delivery were caused by the defendants’ products, according to the motion.

“Notably, not a single one of those conditions is addressed [in the 2022 study],” the defendants argue.