(Reuters) — Nearly 60 lawsuits alleging hair relaxer products sold by L’Oreal USA Inc. and other companies cause cancer and other health problems will be consolidated in Chicago federal court, according to a Monday decision by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.
At least 57 lawsuits have been filed in federal courts across the country over the products, which use chemicals to permanently straighten textured hair, court records show. The lawsuits allege the companies knew their products contained dangerous chemicals but marketed and sold them anyway.
The actions will be centralized into a multi-district trial before U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland, which will streamline discovery efforts and other pretrial matters for the cases, according to the order.
The cases name the U.S. subsidiary of L̵7;Oreal SA and subsidiaries of India-based companies Godrej SON Holdings Inc. and Dabur International Ltd. Representatives for the companies, which opposed centralizing the cases, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a statement posted online after the first lawsuits were filed, L’Oreal said it is “confident in the safety of our products and believes the recently filed lawsuits against us have no legal merit.”
The lawsuits follow the October publication of a National Institutes of Health study that found women who used the products several times a year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer.