CHICAGO, Ill. –– Nationally acclaimed civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and mass tort powerhouse Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann of DiCello Levitt today filed a mass tort lawsuit on behalf of Jenny Mitchell, who contracted uterine cancer after her use of chemical hair straightening products sold by L’Oréal USA, suing that company as well as entities that assisted in the development, marketing, and sale of the defective products including Motions, Dark & Lovely, Olive Oil Relaxer, and Organic Root Stimulator.
Jenny Mitchell first started using these dangerous products around 2000 and continued until 2022. In August 2018, Ms. Mitchell – who has no family history of uterine or other cancer – was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent a full hysterectomy. Ms. Mitchell attended mandatory medical appointments every three months for two years and now has appointments every six months.
According to a new study published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, frequent users of chemical hair straightening products, defined in the study as more than four uses a year, were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer than those who didn’t use those products. The National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences conducted the study.
That shocking finding is particularly alarming for Black women, who report using hair straightening products more than other populations. Uterine cancer rates and deaths are on the rise in the U.S., and death rates are highest among non-Hispanic Black women, who are more likely than other populations to be afflicted with aggressive subtypes of uterine cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health, which tracked data from 34,000 women in the Sister Study for more than a decade.
“Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products specifically marketed to them,” said Crump. “Black hair has been and always will be beautiful, but Black women have been told they have to use these products to meet society’s standards. We will likely discover that Ms. Mitchell’s tragic case is one of the countless cases in which companies aggressively misled black women to increase their profits.”
“The fact that these companies targeted Black and Latin women for their own profit motive and without regard to the serious health risks that these hair-straightening products cause is a serious wrong that needs to be corrected,” said Debrosse Zimmermann. “We have commenced this important litigation to seek and obtain justice for those women and their families.”
Chemical hair straighteners typically contain products associated with higher cancer risk, including formaldehyde, metals, phthalates, and parabens, which may be more easily absorbed by the body through scalp burns and abrasions often caused by chemical straighteners.