How Much Money Can I Get From The Hair Relaxer Lawsuit? – Forbes

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Chemical hair relaxer products are widely used in the United States, but evidence seems to point to an association between the use of these products and uterine cancer. This has led to multiple lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of these products.

Although there have not yet been any settlements or verdicts in these cases, comparing these cases to similar cases can allow us to speculate on what sort of results plaintiffs may receive. If the hair relaxer lawsuits reach results similar to other recent, similar cases, plaintiffs could see around $120,000 to $150,000 or more.

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What Is the Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit?

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Multiple studies, including a recent study by NIH in addition to the Black Women’s Health Study, point to the link between the use of chemical hair relaxers and uterine cancer. The extent of this connection is still being explored. Lawsuits have been brought against companies that manufacture and distribute these products, alleging that the hair relaxers cause cancer.

Many of these cases have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL), which allows multiple plaintiffs to share pretrial proceedings, such as discovery. These pretrial activities are currently ongoing, and bellwether trials have not been identified yet. Although the results of the bellwether trials are not binding on other plaintiffs in the MDL, these cases often give us a sense of how the court might rule in future cases.


What Factors Can Influence Settlement Amount?

In MDLs, each plaintiff can receive a different amount. This can often differ wildly even in the same MDL, with some plaintiffs receiving settlements in the thousands and others receiving settlements in the millions.

For this reason, average settlement amounts often do not reflect the reality of what most people receive. Imagine that a lawsuit had 99 small settlements and one very large settlement. The large settlement would increase the average by quite a bit, so the average would be much higher than what 99 of the plaintiffs received.

Since we don’t have the results of the bellwether trials, it’s difficult to predict exactly what the hair relaxer settlements might look like. However, we have a good idea of what factors can impact the settlement amount in cases like this.

Length of Exposure

Often, in personal injury cases such as this, the length of exposure (or the amount of time a person used a product) can affect the settlement amount. People who have used a product for longer may be more likely to get a larger settlement, especially compared to someone who only used the product once.

Severity of Illness

Personal injury settlements often take into account how severe the illness is, how much it has impacted the plaintiff’s life and how much it will impact their life in the future. More severe illness can lead to a larger settlement to take into account the cost of medical care.

Economic Damages

In personal injury cases, awards are financial. A dollar amount must be identified in a settlement or verdict. It stands to reason, therefore, that cases that have higher costs (for medical bills, recovery, lost wages, etc.) may get larger settlements than those with lower costs.

Noneconomic Damages

It is possible to receive noneconomic damages, or awards for intangible things, like pain and suffering or stress and anxiety. Plaintiffs who had an obviously harrowing time may receive higher settlements or verdicts because of these intangibles.

Future Medical Costs

Many plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits have not completed their medical care. For some, their condition may be terminal. They will have ongoing medical expenses, and those are often taken into consideration when determining the amount of an award.

Negligence

Negligence is a central concept in personal injury cases. Often, the outcome of a case depends on whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care and whether that duty was neglected by the defendant. Defendants can be found to have been negligent if they sell or distribute products that they know are harmful or that they reasonably should have known were harmful. Cases where defendants are found negligent may result in higher settlements and verdicts.

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What Sort of Settlement Might I Receive?

There is no way of knowing what the settlements might look like in the current hair relaxer lawsuits. However, if we look at cases that are similar to this one, we can get a ballpark estimate.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits

Lawsuits concerning talcum powder allege that asbestos in the product led to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. There have been some settlements and verdicts, although many cases, including an MDL, are still ongoing. Many settlements are confidential and although we have the award amount in jury cases, those were for smaller groups of people and, therefore, are difficult to use as a basis for comparison.

As of May 2024, the main defendant, Johnson & Johnson has offered $6.9 billion to settle around 50,000 cases involving reproductive cancer. If this offer is accepted, it will give defendants an average of $130,000 to $140,000.

Roundup Lawsuits

Roundup is a product that was sold as a weed killer. An MDL was brought against the manufacturers, alleging that exposure to Roundup causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This MDL was settled in 2020 and offered an average settlement of around $150,000.

What Does This Mean for Hair Relaxer Cases?

Any verdicts or settlements in the hair relaxer MDL will be determined based on the facts of that case, and there is no guarantee that the settlements in similar cases will have any bearing on future settlement amounts. With that being said, we have two recent examples of products that are alleged to have caused cancer, receiving average settlements of $130,000 to $150,000.

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Next Steps

If you think you’ve been injured by chemical hair relaxers, there is still time to bring a lawsuit. Consult a lawyer with experience in mass torts, class action lawsuits or multidistrict litigation. Your attorney will be able to give you advice specific to your situation and recommend what to do next.

Diagnosed With Cancer After Using Chemical Hair Straighteners?

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