Chaffin Luhana Associate Kendra Goldhirsch Appointed to Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in Hair-Relaxer Litigation

Kendra Y. Goldhirsch of Chaffin Luhana LLP has been appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) for the hair relaxer multi-district litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Illinois.

Earlier this month, the Honorable Mary M. Rowland of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois appointed Chaffin Luhana Associate, Kendra Y. Goldhirsch, to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in In Re: Hair Relaxer Marketing Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation.

The members of this team will lead the common interests of all plaintiffs in the multi-district litigation (MDL), which was established by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on February 6, 2023. Federally filed hair-relaxer lawsuits are now consolidated into the Northern District of Illinois, where pretrial proceedings will take place.

As part of the Order issued by the Court, Judge Rowland informed all counsel members of the need to facilitate the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of the litigation. She encouraged members to suggest procedures regarding the structure and timing of discovery plans, amendments of pleadings, pretrial consideration of substantive issues, and communications to move the cases forward efficiently.

Ms. Goldhirsch, as part of the PSC, will be responsible for gathering evidence, documents, and records; taking depositions; identifying and interviewing witnesses; meeting with experts; and drafting briefs that will be used for the common benefit of all plaintiffs.

“Kendra’s appointment to the PSC for the hair relaxer litigation is a source of great pride for us. Her dedication and commitment to serving not only our clients but all plaintiffs who have been harmed by the negligent actions of these product manufacturers are truly admirable,” says Partner, Roopal Luhana.

Ms. Goldhirsch’s 14-year career has been devoted to pursuing justice for consumers who have been hurt by dangerous over-the-counter consumer products, drugs, and medical devices.  Ms. Goldhirsch has years of experience in consolidated litigation, handling the day-to-day management of the firm’s involvement in Zantac, Essure, Hernia Mesh, Talc, Xarelto, and other MDLs. Over the last three (3) years, Ms. Goldhirsch worked on the Zantac MDL. In re Zantac (Ranitidine) Prod. Liab. Litig., 20-MD-2924 (S.D.Fla.) and was appointed to the Leadership Development Committee.  A Super Lawyers Rising Star for the New York Metro area for several years in a row, she has developed particular expertise in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation.

Now, she will be working on behalf of consumers who used hair-relaxing or straightening products for years and then developed cancer and/or uterine fibroids, or who fear they are now at risk for these dangerous conditions.

“Our commitment to supporting our attorneys in pursuing exceptional opportunities to lead national litigations and develop their skills remains steadfast. Kendra will maintain her outstanding performance in handling this important litigation for our clients,” says Managing Partner, Eric Chaffin.

Hair Relaxers Linked to Cancer in Recent Studies

Hair-relaxer products have been on the market since the 1970s. Classified as creams or lotions, they are marketed largely to women of color. Relaxers use chemicals to purposely damage the hair’s natural protein structure, thereby altering its texture. Consumers apply the products to the base of the hair shaft and then leave them in place for a “cooking interval.” After about 4-8 weeks, the treated portion of the hair grows away from the scalp and new growth takes its place, requiring additional relaxer treatment to smooth the roots.

In the 1990s, the first relaxer product for young girls, “Just for Me,” hit the market, starting a trend of hair-relaxer use in younger consumers. The relaxers contain chemicals including phthalates—plasticizing chemicals—that can negatively affect the endocrine (hormonal) system in the body.

Recent research has connected the regular, long-term use of hair-relaxing products with an increased risk of uterine cancer and ovarian cancer, among other potential injuries.

People who used hair-relaxing and straightening products believed that they were safe for regular use, as the manufacturers included no warnings indicating that such use may be connected with an increased risk for dangerous health issues.

Plaintiffs filing lawsuits against product manufacturers like L’Oréal, Strength of Nature, Soft Sheen/Carson, Dabur, and Namaste Laboratories, note that the defendants knew or should have known about the risks associated with their products, yet concealed these risks from the general public for decades, and continue to do so.

At the end of February 2023, over 20 hair relaxer lawsuits had been filed in federal courts, most in the Northern District of Illinois MDL. It is expected that many more will follow in the coming months.


About Chaffin Luhana:

Chaffin Luhana LLP is a plaintiffs-only national trial firm focused on representing injured survivors and their families in catastrophic and complex cases. Started by former federal prosecutor Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, the firm is comprised of former state and federal prosecutors, former large defense firm attorneys, former judicial law clerks, and caring and compassionate staff including an in-house social worker.

The firm has been appointed by federal and state courts to important national litigations including the 3T Heater-Cooler Litigation, the Transvaginal Mesh Litigation, the Yaz Birth Control Litigation, the Denture Cream Zinc Poisoning Litigation, the Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation, and the Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. With over 160 years of combined legal experience, Chaffin Luhana’s attorneys have recovered over $1 billion for their clients nationwide.