Washington Law Firm Files Suit Against Lumber Liquidators

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Lumber Liquidators headquarters is in Toano.
Lumber Liquidators headquarters is in Toano.

Toano-based Lumber Liquidators is facing a lawsuit alleging the company has conducted a “campaign of misinformation” in the wake of allegations about formaldehyde levels in its Chinese laminate flooring.

The law firm of Hagens Berman filed the suit today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Lumber Liquidators began offering free in-home formaldehyde testing kits to customers who bought laminate flooring products following a bruising March 1 report on the CBS News program 60 Minutes. The suit alleges the kits are “inherently unreliable” and designed to under-report formaldehyde levels.

The suit is the latest in a string of litigation against the company, following on the heels of a suit filed in Virginia earlier this month by a Fairfax County man seeking compensation for himself and anyone else affected by the alleged excessive levels of formaldehyde.

At least three other lawsuits are active against the company — one from a group of investors, one from a pension fund representing police officers and firefighters in a Florida city and another from two environmental groups that were featured in the 60 Minutes report. Court dates have not been set for any of the suits.

The complaint filed with the newest lawsuit features four customers. Two are from California, one is from Michigan and one is from Florida. It cites testing by two separate laboratories showed that 30 of 31 samples sold contained formaldehyde levels in excess of those allowed by the California Air Resources Board.

Lumber Liquidators claims all of its laminate flooring products are CARB compliant, a claim the suit challenges. It also alleges the in-home test kits are offered by a company being paid by Lumber Liquidators.

“Rather than seek to effectively remedy the harm and the risks to its customers’ health and safety caused by its formaldehyde laden flooring products, Lumber Liquidators instead sought to cover up the dangers inherent in its products with mis-information and with a disingenuous public relations campaign,” the suit reads.

The suit features customers from California, Michigan and Florida who bought Chinese laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators. Those customers include families with cancer survivors and the family of a 4-month-old.

In a news release from the law firm, a Florida family says they have been unable to use a room in which they have installed the flooring because of health concerns. They sent a sample of the flooring for testing, revealing elevated formaldehyde levels, according to the suit. The company is then alleged to have told them that they should use one of the in-home test kits it is offering.

“Lumber Liquidators’ testing is clearly rigged to downplay the hazards of this massively widespread problem,” Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, said in the release. “In the [Florida family’s] case, Lumber Liquidators told them to test the air only, while their 4-month-old baby would undoubtedly be in direct contact, at floor level.”

For those classes, it has asked for compensation and punishments including money to remove and replace the flooring, fines against the company to “deter such conduct in the future,” a court order prohibiting the company from selling laminate flooring with elevated formaldehyde levels and attorneys’ fees.

The firm has asked anyone who has purchased the company’s “Dream Home” composite flooring to contact the firm via lumber@hbsslaw.com or by calling 203-623-7292.

Correction: The law firm that filed the suit is based on Seattle, Washington.

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