L’Oreal and Revlon are two companies that do not need any introduction. They have been a household name worldwide for nearly a century. The former was established in 1909, whereas the latter became an entity in 1932. 

The two brands are mainly involved in producing women’s personal care and cosmetic products. L’Oreal is even the largest cosmetics company in the world, with a current market value of $252.7 billion. The company secured a revenue of $40 billion in 2022 alone. 

Revlon, on the other hand, is also a speedily rising brand with a market cap of $3.8 billion. Despite such fame and market value, the two companies have been dragged to the courts by women across the US. What are the charges against them? In this article, we will discuss why women are suing L’Oreal and Revlon. 

The Premise of the Litigation Against the Companies 

Let’s start by talking about the product that has come under legal scrutiny – chemical hair straighteners. Both companies participate in the production of chemical hair straighteners for permanent hair smoothening.

These products are available in the form of creams and lotions that straighten the hair strands by altering the follicles’ protein structure. Many women, especially those of the Black community, have claimed that they developed cancer as a result of regular use of chemical hair straighteners. 

Is there any evidence to support these claims? Yes, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted a study in which it was found that chemical hair straighteners increased the risk of developing uterine cancer. Over 33,000 women participated in that study, with their ages ranging from 35 to 74. 

The study also revealed that those who used these products more than four times a year were twice as likely to develop the said cancer. The women were closely followed for 11 years during which 378 cases of uterine cancer emerged. 

These women have filed a hair straightener cancer lawsuit to receive fair compensation for their losses. They have also alleged that L’Oreal and Revlon were fully aware of the risks involved but failed to issue any warnings. It appears to be a case where the companies were driven by a lust for profits. 

The High Price Women Have Had to Pay 

According to TorHoerman Law, some of the chemicals held responsible for hair straightener-related cancer cases include formaldehyde, parabens, bisphenol A, and cyclosiloxanes. The aftermath of regular exposure to these chemicals has made women dependent on serious medical treatments. These include –

  • Chemotherapy – is the treatment involving the use of highly potent medicines that target the cancer cells and prevent them from reproducing. 
  • Hysterectomy – is the procedure of surgically removing the uterus, partially or completely. In some cases, the removal of the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the surrounding tissues may also become imperative. 
  • Endometriosis excision – is required to remove endometriosis lesions. These are nodules or growths found outside the uterus. They mimic the tissues that generally line the uterus walls from within. 
  • Endometrial ablation – is an invasive surgical treatment used to prevent heavy menstrual bleeding. It is performed by destroying the uterus lining. While the goal is to reduce menstrual flow, the same may completely stop in some cases. 
  • Uterine fibroid embolization – is a surgical method for treating uterine fibroids. They are benign tumors that grow on the wall of the uterus. The procedure blocks the tumors’ blood supply and causes them to shrink. 

What Are the Steps Involved in the Lawsuit Filing Process?

Women are filing a hair relaxer lawsuit with the help of an experienced attorney. Generally, they will have to complete the following steps for a successful legal procedure.

Gathering of Evidence 

Evidence of injuries and the defendant’s fault is crucial for product liability lawsuits. In the case of a hair straightener lawsuit, the following may serve as important pieces of evidence –

  • Medical bills 
  • Healthcare provider’s prescription or notes 
  • Lost wages due to medical treatments for recovery 
  • Witness statements 
  • Receipts of purchase 
  • Other documents that prove the use of hair relaxers and their health impact 

Damage Assessment 

After the evidence is collected, the plaintiff’s attorney will shift their focus to assessing the extent of loss or damages. These may include economic or non-economic damages as a result of the injury. Damages may take the form of –

  • The severity of the cancer 
  • Financial drain due to medical treatments 
  • Lost wages or earning capacity 
  • Loss of quality of life 
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Emotional trauma 
  • Permanent disability 

Determining Liability 

Once the damage is thoroughly assessed, plaintiffs may receive an estimation for the settlement amount. The next step involves proving the defendant’s fault in the matter. This process will include four elements –

  • Breach – The defendant breached an obligation against the plaintiff, which resulted in the latter’s injury. 
  • Duty – The defendant had a legally binding duty towards the plaintiff which they failed to perform. 
  • Causation – The defendant is the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and suffering. 
  • Damages – The plaintiff must have sustained actual injuries due to the defendant’s actions. 

As of April 2024, there are over 8,000 hair straightener lawsuits awaiting settlements in the class-action multi-district litigation (MDL). The average payouts range between $75,000 and $180,000 depending on the severity of injuries and other factors. 

As the lawsuit progresses, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken certain steps of its own. The agency has proposed to ban formaldehyde from hair straighteners, considered to be the most harmful of all chemicals. Still, women are advised to use non-toxic alternatives like chemical-free derivatives and heat styling. 

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