Judge strikes down Home Depot 4x4 lumber deception lawsuit
March 13, 2018 | 11:57 am CDT
CHICAGO - A federal judge has struck down a lawsuit by Chicago lumber buyers who claimed Home Depot was"deceiving" customers about the size of 4x4 lumber.
Last June, both Home Depot and Menards faced lawsuits over claims they deceived lumber buyers on board sizes. The plaintiffs sought more than $5 million, saying they were "misled" because of boards marketed by their nominal size descriptions such as "4 x 4," were actually 3-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches in size.
The home centers claimed they should not be held liable for labeling boards by their nominal size, a common industry practice. 
A federal judge ruled in favor of Menards last October, saying that the lumber, when it is produced, is typically trimmed to smooth after the initial rough cut. The government endorsement of the industry practice supports Menards’ argument that it didn’t falsely market its lumber.
And now, a federal judge has dismissed a similar lawsuit against Home Depot.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in Chicago rejected plaintiff Mikhail Abramov’s claim that the largest U.S. home improvement retailer should be held liable for selling lumber as 4 inches thick by 4 inches wide, when the dimensions were actually 3-1/2 inches by 3-1/2 inches, reported Reuters.
Coleman, despite not buying Home Depot's argument that the lumber's actual size was 'common knowledge,' said its labels would not have misled reasonable consumers. Coleman said that the '4x4' description lacked any unit of measurement and that Home Depot never explicitly represented that the units were in inches.
Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes said on Monday:“We’re glad to have resolved the issue.”
In a statement to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Eugene Turin of McGuire Law, representer of the plaintiffs in both lawsuits, claimed the suit is based on the fact that "reasonable consumers" are unaware of the difference between nominal (pre-surfacing of the four sides) and actual dimensions.
Many of the comments posted on social media disputed that claim, ultimately agreeing with the judge, noting that describing lumber in nominal sizes has been going on for more than 50 years, with a number of resources on how to purchase lumber products being readily available to consumers. For example, the Lumber Buying Guide on Menards' website, notes:
"Nominal Size - The size of the piece when it is sawn from the log. This is the most common way to refer to the size of lumber. Actual Size - The size of the piece after it has been dried and planed. Example: The nominal size of a piece of wood may be 2" x 4" x 8' while the actual size of the same piece of wood would be 1-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 8'."

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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at robert.dalheim@woodworkingnetwork.com.