U.S. JPML To Consider MDL for Lumber Liquidators Flooring Lawsuits
Oral arguments over whether to consolidate and centralize all federal Lumber Liquidators class action lawsuits will be heard by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on May 28, at a hearing in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Last month, a group of plaintiffs petitioned the JPML to establish a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for all lawsuits over Lumber Liquidator laminate flooring problems, which would centralize the cases before one judge to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
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.
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Currently, at least 10 class action lawsuits have been filed against Lumber Liquidators over problems with its Chinese-imported flooring in seven different federal districts. However, the number of class action and individual complaints is expected to grow in the coming months.
According to a notice of hearing session (PDF) issued by the U.S. JPML earlier this month, the panel will decide whether to establish a Lumber Liquidators MDL following a hearing on May 28, at the United States Courthouse in Minneapolis.
Lumber Liquidator Formaldehyde Flooring Risks
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.
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