Judge strikes down Menards 4x4 lumber deception lawsuit

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CHICAGO - A federal judge has struck down Illinois lumber buyers who sued Menards over claims it deceived them about the size of 4x4 lumber boards. 
The judge said no reasonable consumers would regard Menards' lumber descriptions the way plaintiffs Michael Fuchs and Vladislav Krasilnikov did. The plaintiffs are seeking more than $5 million, saying they were "misled" because boards marketed by their nominal size descriptions such as "4 x 4," were actually 3-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches in size.
Menards, as well as Home Depot - who is being hit with the same lawsuit, said it should not be held liable for labeling boards by their nominal sizes, a common industry practice. 


Home Depot and Menards under fire over lumber board sizes

Home Depot and Menards are each facing a possible class-action suit over claims they deceived lumber buyers on board sizes.

U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang threw out the case 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, Chang said.

Chang also said that the labels on the lumber "are literally true", because they do not show inch-mark symbols after the customary trade names.
“Without a literally untrue statement, combined with the government-recognized distinction between nominal sizes and actual sizes, no reasonable consumer would think that the labels showed the exact dimensions of the lumber,” Chang said.
Chang also said that the plaintiffs could have used tape measures in store to measure the lumber.


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The two lawsuits were filed in federal court for the Northern District of Illinois within five days of each other. McGuire Law firm is representing the plaintiffs in both cases.

In a statement to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Eugene Turin of McGuire Law 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 [email protected].