SAN FRANCISCO – Consumer-rights law firm Hagens Berman today filed a fifth class-action lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators (NYSE:LL) alleging that the laminate flooring company accused of selling formaldehyde-tainted flooring has orchestrated a “campaign of misinformation” including offering bogus home-testing kits that are noncompliant under California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards, and attempting to refute accredited laboratories, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that the free home-testing kits Lumber Liquidators has offered to customers are “inherently unreliable” and “designed to under-report” levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde present in the composite flooring. The third party providing the home testing kits is not independent, but is being paid by Lumber Liquidators, according to the suit.

The lawsuit filed on Mar. 31, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California representing consumers from California, Florida and Michigan alleges that Lumber Liquidators sold composite flooring manufactured in China tainted with hazardous levels of formaldehyde while falsely labeling their products as meeting or exceeding CARB emissions standards. The suit’s named plaintiffs include multiple cancer survivors and the family of a 4-month-old baby – all of whom purchased Lumber Liquidators flooring, believing it would be safe.

Concerned consumers who live in any state and purchased “Dream Home” Lumber Liquidators flooring may contact Hagens Berman by emailing lumber@hbsslaw.com or by calling 206-623-7292. Visit the firm’s website for additional information about the Lumber Liquidators lawsuit. Sign up for the lawsuit here.

According to the complaint, three accredited laboratories tested the formaldehyde emissions of laminate wood flooring from several nationwide retail outlets from October 2013 through November 2014, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Lumber Liquidators, and employed testing methods that are consistent with CARB regulations and with standard operating procedures CARB has recommended. Of the dozens of products tested, by far the highest formaldehyde levels were found in the composite laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators that was produced in China.

“Instead of trying to help remedy the situation, Lumber Liquidators has irresponsibly sought to cover-up these dangers by spreading misinformation, attempting to cloud studies done by accredited laboratories and offering home-testing kits that are designed to mislead,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “Lumber Liquidators could have saved consumers literal headaches if it had acted in an honest manner after news broke about the dangerously high levels of formaldehyde in its flooring.” 

A report from “60 Minutes” recently stated that all laminate flooring carried by Lumber Liquidators bears a label indicating that it is CARB Phase 2–compliant, but that its flooring manufactured in China that bears this label is in fact not compliant. The report revealed that glue and resin used to bond the pressed wood together can be a significant source of formaldehyde gas.

According to the complaint, “In response to the 60 Minutes report, Lumber Liquidators launched a campaign of disinformation in which it attacked the laboratories that conducted the tests showing that its products exceeded CARB limits for formaldehyde. Lumber Liquidators claimed that the tests the laboratories conducted were improper because the laboratories removed the laminate coating before testing the composite core of the Lumber Liquidators flooring. In fact, CARB specifically recommends that laminate coating be removed before testing.” 

One of the suit’s named plaintiffs, Lila Washington of San Jose, California, is a 73-year-old who has battled various forms of cancer for the past seven years. She and her daughter chose Lumber Liquidators flooring for their home because they believed it would be safer and less likely to exacerbate Lila’s breathing difficulties than carpeting or other flooring options. They also were under the assumption that the flooring was – as stated on the packaging – CARB compliant.

A Florida family named in the suit installed Lumber Liquidators composite flooring manufactured in China, and been unable to use the room in which they installed the flooring for health concerns and the health of their infant son. According to the suit, after seeing the “60 Minutes” report, the Brandt family had the flooring tested by an independent professional to determine the level of formaldehyde. The results showed formaldehyde levels that exceeded CARB limits and that were unsafe for use in a home, the suit states. The Brandt family informed Lumber Liquidators of their findings, but were told by the company that the test was not accurate, and that they should instead use the air testing kit supplied by Lumber Liquidators.

“Lumber Liquidators’ testing is clearly rigged to downplay the hazards of this massively widespread problem,” Berman said. “In the Brandt family’s case, Lumber Liquidators told them to test the air only, while their 4-month-old baby would undoubtedly be in direct contact, at floor level.”

The complaint states that Lumber Liquidators’ “campaign of misinformation” has further endangered its customers with the affected flooring, as it “will cause people to believe the floors in their homes are safe when they are not and will expose them to even greater risk than if Lumber Liquidators had honestly addressed the findings of multiple laboratories.”

If you purchased Lumber Liquidators “Dream Home” composite flooring, contact Hagens Berman to find out about your rights by emailing lumber@hbsslaw.com or by calling 206-623-7292. Sign up for the lawsuit here. 

Source: Hagens Berman

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in nine cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.

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