New medical research studies have shown that long-term use of chemical hair relaxer products can significantly increase the risk of uterine cancer and a handful of other female hormone-related diseases, including breast cancer, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. This research has already prompted product liability lawsuits against cosmetic manufacturers and thousands of hair relaxer lawsuits will likely be consolidated into a new class action MDL next year.
The emergence of the hair relaxer class action lawsuit has prompted speculation on how this litigation will play out and what a hair relaxer global settlement might look like. In this post, our lawyers will look at the potential settlement value of hair relaxer lawsuits involving uterine cancer, and other conditions linked to hair relaxer.
Hair Relaxer Linked to Cancer
Hair relaxer or hair straightener is a chemical cosmetic product used primarily by Black women to flatten out their hair. The product is applied every 4-8 weeks in a process called getting a “perm” which involves applying the straightener to the base of the hair and letting it “cook.”
Hair relaxers contain high levels of strong chemicals, such as phthalates. Phthalates are particularly harmful to the human body because they are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs interfere with the body’s production of important hormones, such as estrogen.
Over the last 2 decades, a growing body of scientific research has emerged regarding the harmful effects of long-term exposure to phthalates in hair relaxers.
In October 2022, the results of a groundbreaking long-term study at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (called the “Sister Study”) were released. The Sister Study found that frequent use of chemical hair relaxer (over 4 times per year) over long-time periods increased the risk of uterine cancer by 150%.
The results of the Sister Study were definitive proof that hair relaxer was linked to uterine cancer.
Chronic exposure to the chemicals in hair straightener products has also been linked to increased risks of breast cancer, and other health conditions involving the female reproductive system such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis.
Hair Relaxer Class Action Law Suit
Very soon after the publication of the NIH Sister Study in October 2022, hair relaxer product liability lawsuits began getting filed.
The first hair relaxer case was filed in federal court in Chicago and many more have been filed since then. All of these cases involve women alleging that their long term use of hair relaxer products caused them to develop cancer. So far, all of the hair relaxer lawsuits have been uterine cancer cases, but cases involving breast cancer, uterine fibroids and other conditions will follow soon.
Thousands of hair relaxer lawsuits are expected to be filed as we move forward. The size of the potential plaintiff field for this litigation is very large. Any woman who regularly used hair relaxer and was later diagnosed with uterine cancer is a potential plaintiff. Over 60,000 uterine cancer cases are diagnosed each year. Even if only 10% of these cases involve women who used hair relaxers, that would yield a very large population.
A motion has already been filed with the JPML seeking to have all of the future hair relaxer lawsuits consolidated into a new class action MDL. This request will probably be granted sometime in the beginning of 2023, at which point we will officially have a hair relaxer class action.
Potential Hair Relaxer Global Settlement
Most product liability class action lawsuits are eventually resolved in what is referred to as a global settlement. In a global settlement, the various defendants in the litigation agree to set aside a large sum of money to be used to make coordinated settlements with all the plaintiffs.
The settlement payout received by individual plaintiffs is usually based on a tiered system in which plaintiffs are ranked into different categories based on the severity of their injuries and strength of their case. Plaintiffs in Tier I get settlement higher payouts, while lower tier plaintiffs receive lesser amounts.
Estimated Settlement Amounts for a Hair Relaxer Uterine Cancer Lawsuit
In the hair relaxer class action, the uterine cancer cases are going to be in the top settlement tier. The scientific causation evidence connecting hair relaxer use to uterine cancer (the Sister Study) is very strong. Moreover, uterine cancer is a more severe injury compared to uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
Our lawyers estimate that the settlement payout for hair relaxer uterine cancer cases could have a range of $300,000 to $1,750,000. The reason that this value estimate range is so wide is because individual uterine cancer cases could have vastly different valuations depending on specific circumstances. For example, a uterine cancer case involving a plaintiff in her late 20s with no children will have a much higher value compared to a uterine cancer case involving a plaintiff in her 60s.
Estimated Settlement Amounts for a Hair Relaxer Endometriosis Lawsuit
Hair relaxer cases in which the plaintiff’s primary injury is endometriosis will be lower on the settlement tier scale for 2 reasons. First, the causation evidence linking endometriosis to hair relaxer is not nearly as strong as the causation evidence for uterine cancer. This makes proving these cases more difficult, which brings down their potential settlement value.
The second reason for the lower value on endometriosis cases is because this condition is not as severe as uterine cancer. Endometriosis can be extremely painful and can often cause fertility problems, but it is not potentially life threatening like cancer.
Taking all of these factors into consideration, our lawyers expect that hair relaxer lawsuits involving endometriosis as the primary injury could have a settlement payout value of around $110,000 to $300,000.
Estimated Settlement Amounts for a Hair Relaxer Uterine Fibroid Lawsuit
Uterine fibroid hair relaxer lawsuits will be Tier II cases for settlement purposes. The causation evidence establishing an association between uterine fibroids and chronic use of hair relaxer products solid, but a uterine fibroid is a less severe injury compared to uterine cancer. Uterine fibroids are painful, and may require surgery, but they are not deadly.
For these reasons, our attorneys estimate that hair relaxer lawsuits involving uterine fibroids as the primary injury will have a settlement payout value of $150,000 to $500,000. This is slightly above the estimate for endometriosis cases but below uterine cancer cases.
Estimated Settlement Amounts for a Hair Relaxer Breast Cancer Lawsuit
Breast Cancer Cases
Hair relaxer lawsuits involving breast cancer as the primary injury remain somewhat of a wildcard. There is good scientific evidence to support a causal link between hair relaxer use and increase breast cancer rates. The problem, however, is that breast cancer is so common that isolating a specific cause among many others is often extremely difficult.
For this reason, our settlement value estimate for hair relaxer breast cancer cases is very wide. Depending on how the causation issue works out, breast cancer cases could have a value range between $180,000 to $750,000.
Contact Us About Filing a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
Our firm is currently investigating product liability cases alleging that chemicals in hair perm and hair relaxer products cause uterine cancer, breast cancer and other conditions. If you think you qualify for a lawsuit involving chemical hair straightener, contact our office today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.