Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is a legal procedure used to consolidate and streamline multiple cases that involve similar issues and are filed in different federal district courts. MDLs can facilitate the efficient handling of complex litigation, such as mass torts, which involve numerous plaintiffs who have been harmed by a defendant’s actions or products. In the context of the Hair Relaxer Marketing Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, the MDL seeks to address the claims of plaintiffs who allege that they have been harmed by the use of certain hair relaxer products.
A recent NIH-funded study published in October 2022 found a concerning association between the use of chemical hair relaxers and an increased risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. The study warned that Black and/or African American women may be disproportionately affected due to their higher prevalence and frequency of hair product use, younger age of initiating use, and the harsher chemical formulations in products marketed to them.
Some of the brands involved in the hair relaxer lawsuits include Motions, Dark & Lovely, Soft & Beautiful, Optimum Care, Creme of Nature, Just for Me, Carson Soft Sheen, and Olive Oil. These products, which are sold for both at-home and salon use, often contain hazardous chemicals like phthalates, which have been linked to increased cancer risk. However, due to FDA regulations, these chemicals do not need to be individually labeled when combined with “perfume” or fragrance, making it difficult for consumers to know what they are exposed to.
In an effort to keep you informed about the ongoing Hair Relaxer Marketing Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, I wanted to share some insights about a recent court order that may impact the plaintiffs in this case. Judge Mary M. Rowland has issued Case Management Order No. 2 (CMO No. 2) on March 30, 2023 to streamline the process for filing new cases related to this multidistrict litigation (MDL).
To promote judicial efficiency and eliminate delays, CMO No. 2 allows plaintiffs to file their cases directly in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which is where MDL No. 3060 is currently being heard. Plaintiffs who choose to file their cases directly will need to pay the standard New Action Filing Fee and follow specific guidelines set forth in the order.
It’s important to note that this direct filing is for pretrial proceedings only, and it does not waive any party’s right to challenge jurisdiction, choice of law, statutes of limitation, or other legal rights. Once pretrial proceedings are completed, the cases will be transferred to their designated Original Venue, unless the parties agree to try the cases in the Northern District of Illinois.
Moreover, CMO No. 2 states that the direct filing of a case in the MDL will not impact the choice of law, waive personal jurisdiction, or affect service by any named defendant. The order also outlines the process for determining the Original Venue and provides guidance for attorney admission and electronic filing.
The implementation of CMO No. 2 aims to make the litigation process more efficient and organized for all parties involved in this MDL. As the case progresses, we will continue to provide updates and analysis on our blog.
Stay tuned for more information, and contact us with any questions or concerns.