The Illinois federal judge presiding over the 75 cases that have been filed against L’Oréal USA, Inc. and its India-based subsidiaries in the multidistrict litigation claiming that hair relaxers cause cancer has appointed a slate of diverse and revered attorneys to represent the plaintiffs.
In 2022, the National Institute of Health (NIH) released a study, which found that frequent users of chemical hair straightening products were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use such products.
In October 2022, shortly after the disclosure of such findings, Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmerman of DiCello Levitt and Ben Crump of the Ben Crump Law Firm filed their first lawsuit claiming that chemical hair relaxers, which contained chemicals including formaldehyde, metals, phthalates, and parabens, caused uterine cancer by absorbing into the skin through scalp burns. Their plaintiff, Jenny Mitchell, was diagnosed with uterine cancer after using chemical hair straightening products sold by L’Oréal USA, Inc.
Zimmerman and Crump claimed that L’Oréal knew that their products contained dangerous chemicals and marketed and sold such products to mostly Black and Brown women despite having such knowledge.
Lead Counsel for the Plaintiffs
Since the filing of the first case, there have been about 75 cases filed in the multidistrict litigation against L’Oréal, which was formed in February. Judge Mary M. Rowland of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois appointed Ms. Zimmerman and Mr. Crump as plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel along with Fidelma Fitzpatrick of Motley Rice LLC, and Michael A. London of Douglas & London PC. In addition, Judge Rowland appointed a plaintiffs’ liaison counsel, a nine-member plaintiffs’ executive committee, and named another 21 lawyers to a plaintiffs’ steering committee.
In making such appointments, the judge considered diversity, similar professional experiences, willingness and resources to commit to a time-consuming project, and ability to work cooperatively with others.
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