Lumber Liquidators is a multi-channel specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, and hardwood flooring enhancements and accessories. However, the company has recently come under fire as numerous class-action lawsuits against the company have been filed across the nation, including at least one in Pennsylvania. The complaints allege that the company sold laminated wood floors that contained dangerous levels of toxic formaldehyde. Extensive research has linked the chemical formaldehyde to cancer, asthma, chronic respiratory irritation and other ailments, including skin and breathing problems. While formaldehyde is commonly used as a binding agency in the flooring industry, there are strict limits on the amount of the chemical that can be used.
A recent 60 Minutes report brought this issue to life. The report concentrated on the Chinese manufacturer and supplier to Lumber Liquidators, who labeled the toxic laminate flooring as being compliant with California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) emission standards. CARB promulgates federal safety standards, including formaldehyde limits. However, as the report highlighted, independent tests found that the formaldehyde levels exceeded the toxicity limits by six, seven, or even 20 times. In fact, out of the 31 tested samples of Chinese-made laminate flooring produced for Lumber Liquidators, only one sample was compliant with CARB standards. Shockingly, as reported by 60 Minutes, Chinese managers at the factory told the undercover crew that they knew the products were not compliant with CARB emission standards.
On March 10, 2015, a class action suit was filed on behalf of Pennsylvania consumers in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. That action, like the others instituted in other jurisdictions, alleges that Lumber Liquidators sold composite flooring manufactured in China tainted with hazardous levels of formaldehyde, and in doing so falsely labeled their products as meeting or exceeding CARB emissions standards. The complaint alleges claims of negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranties, violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent omission or concealment, unjust enrichment, and violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
In the suit, the class seeks the following relief: compensatory damages, equitable and/or injunctive relief, payment for the cost of the suit, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on any amounts awarded, punitive damages, and payment of reasonable attorneys fees’ and expert fees. Further, the suit seeks damages in excess of $5 million. The case is being presided over by the Honorable C. Darnell Jones.