As a growing number of lawsuits continue to be filed over problems with Lumber Liquidators laminant flooring, which may emit dangerously high levels of formaldehyde, a motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) seeking to consolidate all cases for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
A group of plaintiffs are seeking to establish a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for all Lumber Liquidator lawsuits filed over laminate flooring issues, which would centralize the cases to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
According to a motion for transfer (PDF) filed on March 9, at least 10 class action lawsuits have been filed nationwide over Lumber Liquidators flooring, which all allege the company has violated consumer fraud and protection laws.
A growing number of complaints have been brought in recent weeks, following a recent segment that aired on 60 Minutes, which found that certain Lumber Liquidator flooring imported from China and sold in California failed to meet the state’s formaldehyde emissions standards.
Some experts suggest that tens of thousands of homes in the state, and potentially hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses nationwide, may be contaminated with toxic Chinese flooring.
Formaldehyde is a chemical used to manufacture building materials, resins, household products and is used as an embalming agent. It is classified as a probable carcinogen by the EPA and was determined by the National Academy of Sciences to cause cancer in humans. However, the EPA has never passed regulations which set acceptable formaldehyde gas levels for flooring.
Common symptoms of exposure to formaldehyde may include respiratory symptoms, eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, chest pain, vomiting and rashes. The chemical has been linked to some forms of cancer and leukemia.
Investigators with a nonprofit group called Global Community Monitor says it tested more than 150 boxes of laminate flooring at various stores around California.
Researchers said that, on average, the Chinese-made Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring contained more than six to seven times the state standard for formaldehyde. Some samples contained nearly 20 times the acceptable amount of formaldehyde, the researchers warned.
A number of states are launching investigations into Lumber Liquidators flooring as a result of the 60 Minutes segment and complaints from consumers. Attorneys general in both New York and Connecticut have recently announced probes into the flooring and Lumber Liquidator’s business practices, and officials in California say they are considering an investigation as well.
Lumber Liquidators has continued to defend the quality of its flooring. On its webpage, the company has issued a statement claiming that it’s flooring is safe and legal and posted its own test results indicating that its flooring meets state standards.
In the coming months, it is expected that a growing number of Lumber Liquidator lawsuits will be filed nationwide, which some plaintiffs propose should be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, for coordinated pretrial proceedings before District Judge Jon S. Tigar.
The U.S. JPML is expected to schedule oral arguments for an upcoming hearing session in Minneapolis, Minnesota that is set for May 28, 2015.