Millions of consumers use hair straighteners and relaxing agents as part of their regular beauty routine. Across the country, women have filed lawsuits stating that using hair straightening and hair relaxer products has impacted their health, contributing to cancer diagnoses. Cosmetic companies facing these allegations include L’Oreal and Revlon. But with Revlon declaring bankruptcy in June 2022, what does this mean for consumers who have filed lawsuits against the company and those who are considering filing lawsuits related to chemical hair straightening products?
If you wish to file a claim against Revlon regarding their hair straightening products affecting your health, the time to do so has been extended but not for long. With the company’s bankruptcy before the courts, you have until April 11, 2023. Time is of the essence, so if you are considering filing a claim, you may want to consult with a hair straightening cancer attorney. Working with a personal injury attorney can make sure your claim is filed correctly and on time so you can seek justice and compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and more for injuries caused by Revlon’s hair straightening products.
While declaring bankruptcy in June, the 91-year-old company placed the blame on several factors. These include global supply chain disruptions that have caused raw materials to spike in cost, vendors demanding upfront payments for materials, inflation and labor shortages. The Covid-19 pandemic has also impacted delivery times, increasing the cost of shipping freight. Lockdowns in Shanghai, China and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have contributed to additional supply chain disruptions. Revlon’s bankruptcy does not mean that they will escape any potential liability in these chemical hair straightening products lawsuits. Instead, their potential liability will be accounted for within the reorganization plans for the company.
A factor in their bankruptcy case, Revlon operated under a heavy debt load during 2022 due to various concerns, including supply chain issues and increasing freight shipping costs. It is estimated that the debt load was $3.5 billion. In 2016, Revlon bought competitor Elizabeth Arden for $870 million in an attempt to reduce its competitors. Over the last few years, Revlon sales have plummeted. Other cosmetic brands have invested in improving supply chains and access to raw materials, which has increased Revlon’s competitors’ market share while decreasing Revlon sales.
Revlon’s Restructuring Plan
In February, Revlon announced a deal with some lenders, smoothing the way toward a path that would allow the company to exit bankruptcy. This final settlement with lenders in place means that Revlon has support from all of its major creditors and lenders. The U.S. judge overseeing Revlon’s bankruptcy approved the company’s reorganization plan on Monday. This will allow the cosmetics maker to cut $2.7 billion from its debt and exit bankruptcy later this month. As part of the plan, consumers who have filed personal injury lawsuits against Revlon regarding their use of chemical hair relaxing agents as well as junior creditors, including retirees with unpaid pension claims will be paid up to $44 million.
Hair Straightening Cancer Lawsuits
The first hair straightening cancer lawsuits were filed in October. These initial lawsuits were filed in federal courts across the country. Shortly after the initial filing, a Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) motion was filed, asking that these cases be consolidated.
The hair straightening lawsuits stemmed from an NIH study that was published in October. The study found that those women who used chemical hair straightening products frequently were at least twice as likely to develop uterine cancer. Within the study, frequently using hair straightening products meant that these products were used four or more times within a year.
“We estimated that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70; but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05%,” said Alexandra White, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology group and lead author on the new study. “This doubling rate is concerning. However, it is important to put this information into context – uterine cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer.”
New diagnoses of uterine cancer account for approximately 3% of all new cancer cases. Last year there were over 65,000 new uterine cancer cases. The rate of uterine cancer has been increasing across the country, specifically among Black women. This study was published shortly after Revlon filed for bankruptcy.
For those who have used chemical hair relaxers and straighteners, the NIH study on the potential health impacts is concerning. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with uterine, ovarian or breast cancer or other health effects after using a Revlon relaxer or straightener product, know that you have legal options that should be explored by April 11. If you miss the April deadline, an attorney may be able to help you explore other legal options to seek justice and potential compensation. By pursing your legal rights, you also may be helping to make the marketplace safer for consumers using these types of products. No one should have to pick between their health and beauty products.