Recently, Weitz & Luxenberg attorney EricaRae Garcia joined a distinguished group of attorneys at HarrisMartin’s MDL Conference: Hair Straightener & Social Media Litigation. Attorneys from across the country attended the event, which took place in Miami, Florida.
HarrisMartin is a leading provider of litigation news and continuing legal education conferences for attorneys, both plaintiff and defense. The company events cover topics involving asbestos and mass tort litigations, among others.
At the recent conference, Ms. Garcia shared her knowledge about the significant studies recently published linking chemicals and ingredients in hair relaxing and straightening products to cancer. The panel evolved throughout the day from discussions on the chemical hair relaxer litigation to other topics in the legal profession.
Hair Relaxers Contain Dangerous Chemicals Linked to Cancer
Ms. Garcia served a panelist, with a handful of others, to discuss the chemical hair relaxer cases. During the panel, studies linking women’s frequent and continuous use of hair relaxing products to an elevated risk of uterine and ovarian cancer were discussed.
In addition, Ms. Garcia emphasized that for many clients, their use of chemical hair relaxers and straighteners starts at a young age and continues throughout adulthood. In these cases, clients exposure to these products is over the span of many years.
Chemicals and Ingredients in Hair Relaxers Are Terrible
Hair relaxer and straightening products contain a variety of chemicals and additives such as:
- Phthalates (di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or DEHP).
- Others hiding in fragrance.
The chemicals and ingredients found in these products are so terrible, that other countries have taken the initiative to ban some of them.
During the panel discussion, Ms. Garcia discussed the steps taken in other countries to stop the use of certain phthalates in products. She explained that Canada, Australia, France, and several other countries have banned the use of DEHP in certain products.
Clients Are the Main Priority
The chemical hair relaxer litigation is important to Ms. Garcia. Growing up in a Latin household, she recalls these hair products often being a part of her mom’s routine to maintain straight and unruly hair.
During the panel discussion, Ms. Garcia emphasized the delicate nature of these cases. She explained how important it is to talk with these clients and learn about their stories using these products.
For many women, they trusted and religiously used these products for years. Some women even used them on their children or other family members.
Chemical Hair Relaxer Litigation Status
In late January, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) convened to hear oral arguments for whether the hair relaxer cases should be transferred to a single federal district for pretrial proceedings. Ms. Garcia attended the JPML hearing and listed to the arguments made before the panel.
On February 6, 2023, the JPML issued a decision granting consolidation of these cases in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois before Judge Mary Rowland. The multidistrict litigation (MDL) before Judge Rowland is a step in the right direction, as it will conserve the resources of the parties and their counsel, as well as the judiciary. An MDL does this by avoiding duplicative discovery and fending off inconsistent pretrial rulings.
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Our attorneys are passionate about the work that we do. Over the years, Weitz & Luxenberg has pursued countless cases for individuals across the country who were harmed by defective consumer products, medical devices, and drugs.
W&L represents one of the biggest names nationally in the areas of personal injury and mass tort litigation. With the experience of our attorneys, paralegals, and support staff, our firm is equipped to strongly advocate for our clients. We have won billions of dollars for them.