UPDATE 2/22/2016: We are no longer pursuing this Lumber Liquidators lawsuit.
A “60 Minutes” exposé this week of Lumber Liquidators, alleging the home-improvements corporation made profits by selling laminate flooring that emits harmful levels of formaldehyde, prompted Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. to announce today it is investigating claims from consumers who purchased the hazardous Chinese-made product.
The law firm said its investigation could give rise to a nationwide class action lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators in order to obtain compensation for consumers’ economic losses, including the costs of removing the potentially cancer-causing flooring from homes where it has been installed and replacing it with safer materials.
For now, W&L said it wants to explore with purchasers their legal rights to force Lumber Liquidators into making full restitution. “Our goal is to protect the victimized consumers,” explained Robin L. Greenwald, who heads W&L’s Environmental, Toxic Tort & Consumer Protection Unit.
“Lumber Liquidator customers who bought this product can contact us toll-free at 844-400-HELP or through our website, www.weitzlux.com,” she said.
Lumber Liquidators annually sells more than 100-million square feet of the gas-emitting laminate flooring in the U.S., said W&L, adding that “60 Minutes” estimated that the health of people living in hundreds of thousands of American homes is jeopardized as a result.
Class Action Against Lumber Liquidators a Possibility
The Sunday night CBS News television program reported that many fearful homeowners already are ripping out the dangerous material but acknowledged that few can afford to replace the flooring on their own.
That may be why the best recourse available to many victims of Lumber Liquidator’s laminate flooring is through the courts.
W&L said “60 Minutes” reported that the laminate flooring emits toxic gas from the chemical formaldehyde at levels far in excess of that allowed under California and federal regulations.
To prove the point, “60 Minutes” arranged for certified lab tests of laminate flooring it purchased at Lumber Liquidator stores in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Illinois and New York. Of 31 samples, only one met California’s formaldehyde emissions standards.
The law firm indicated that laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators carries package labeling to assure consumers that the product is compliant with California’s formaldehyde emissions standards.
But when “60 Minutes” sent an undercover crew to the Chinese factories where Lumber Liquidators gets its laminated flooring, they found workers and managers who admitted to purposefully mislabeling the product to make it appear compliant with California emissions standards so that Lumber Liquidators could sell it.
Using Formaldehyde Boosts Lumber Liquidators’ Profits
The formaldehyde contained inside the Chinese-made laminate flooring comes from cut-rate glue used for binding the top and bottom veneers to the inner wood core. Extra formaldehyde goes into the glue to make it cheaper.
Prolonged exposure to high levels of formaldehyde can cause myeloid leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer, while, at low levels, it can cause respiratory problems and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.
The law firm said “60 Minutes” posed the question of why Lumber Liquidators would want to peddle a flawed product like this on its customers. The answer: greed.
W&L said “60 Minutes” indicated the cheaper but health-endangering product boosts Lumber Liquidators’ profits.
Most of the Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring considered to be emitting formaldehyde at levels that violate the law is sold under the brand name Dream Home. Affected Dream Home styles include:
- Nirvana French Oak, 8 mm
- Kensington Manor Antique Bamboo, 12 mm
- Kensington Manor Warm Springs Chestnut, 12 mm
- Kensington Manor Imperial Teak, 12 mm
- Kensington Manor Cape Doctor, 12 mm
- Ispiri Chimney Tops Smoked Oak, 12 mm
- St. James Oceanside Plank Bamboo, 12 mm
- St. James Vintner’s Reserve, 12 mm
- St. James Cumberland Mountain Oak, 12 mm
- St. James Sky Lakes Pine, 15 mm
Also considered unsafe is 8 mm Cherry Laminate Flooring by Bristol County.