Lumber Liquidators Flooring Cases Consolidated in Virginia
A panel of federal judges has established coordinated pretrial proceedings for all federal Lumber Liquidator lawsuits over allegedly toxic laminate flooring imported from China, which has been found to release dangerous levels of formaldehyde into homes throughout the U.S.
In a transfer order (PDF) issued June 12, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) indicated that nearly 125 complaints currently pending in federal district courts nationwide will be centralized before U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in the Eastern District of Virginia.
During oral arguments presented last month, none of the parties opposed consolidation of the cases as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. However, there was debate on where the cases would be centralized.
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“After considering the argument of counsel, we find that the actions in this litigation involve common questions of fact, and that centralization in the Eastern District of Virginia will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation,” the JPML ruled. “Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.”
The lawsuits have been brought following a segment that aired earlier this year 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.
The number of cases have continued to increase amid concerns that problems with Lumber Liquidator flooring may be impacting thousands of homes throughout the U.S.
On May 7, Lumber Liquidators halted to sales of the flooring, and the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Robert Lynch, suddenly resigned last week. The company also faces an investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A number of states are also 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 Liquidator Formaldehyde Flooring Problems
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 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.
Lumber Liquidators has defended 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.
The company said it has its own special committee investigating the formaldehyde flooring claims. According to the committee’s review, the Chinese flooring suppliers certified the flooring sold to the company and labeled it as compliant with California formaldehyde emission standards.
Lumber Liquidators officials say that the company is now reviewing those certifications, labeling processes and practices of the flooring suppliers. It is also reviewing the allegations and its own policies.
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