On March 1, 2015, 60 Minutes aired an investigation into claims that Lumber Liquidators was selling laminate flooring containing illegal and potentially dangerous levels of the chemical Formaldehyde. The investigation revealed that flooring had been falsely labeled as compliant with the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB’s) limits for formaldehyde emissions. As a result of this misrepresentation, numerous class action lawsuits have been filed nationwide. On April 2, 2015, the Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos, P.C., filed a Class Action Complaint seeking to represent Marylanders who were misled into purchasing laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators containing formaldehyde above the CARB limits.
Lumber Liquidators is one of the nations largest specialty retailors of hardwood and laminate flooring. Offering over 300 varieties of flooring for consumer purchase, the company sources directly from mills and manufacturers, claiming to cut out the distributors to provide low prices. Investigations into the company revealed that its Chinese suppliers manufactured laminate flooring with high levels of formaldehyde in order to cut costs.
What is Formaldehyde?
Commonly known as methanol, formaldehyde is a colorless and naturally occurring organic compound used in construction and manufacturing materials. The substance can be found in walls, flooring, synthetic fabric, paneling, plywood and particleboard. Formaldehyde is designated as a known human carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Toxicology Program. The compound has a high toxicity and volatility to humans, and exposure can cause both short and long term health effects. Symptoms of exposure to formaldehyde include, but are not limited to:
- Watery eyes
- Itchy throat
- Skin irritation
The Initial Lawsuit & Findings
In 2014, Global Community Monitor –a non-profit organization focused on the impact of pollutants and chemicals on environmental and human health—filed a lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators alleging that Chinese made laminate flooring contained illegal levels of formaldehyde and seeking compliance with California laws. As a part of this lawsuit, the organization and representing legal team conducted tests on multiple Chinese made products. Of the flooring tested, at least 27 different types were found to have levels of the compound exceeding the California state emissions legal limit. Such levels of formaldehyde in products are dangerous to humans and potentially lethal to children.
The following types of laminate flooring have been found to contain formaldehyde at levels above the CARB limits:
- 8mm Bristol County Cherry
- 8mm Dream Home Nirvana French Oak
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Antique Bamboo
- 12mm Dream Home St. James Oceanside Plank Bamboo
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Warm Springs Chestnut
- 15mm Dream Home St. James Sky Lakes Pine
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Imperial Teak
- 12mm Dream Home St. James Vinter’s Reserve
- 12mm Dream Home St. James Cumberland Mountain Oak
- 12mm Dream Home Ispiri Americas Mission Olive
- 12mm Dream Home Ispiri Chimney Tops Smoked Oak
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Glacier Peak poplar
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Cape Doctor
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Golden Teak
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Imperial Teak
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Handscraped Summer Retreat Teak
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Sandy Hills Hickory
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Tanzanian Wenge
- 8mm Dream Home Nirvana Royal Mahogany
- 12mm Dream Home St. James Blacksburg Barn Board
- 12mm Dream Home St. James Brazilian Koa
- 12mm Dream Home St. James Acacia
- 12mm Dream Home Ispiri Poplar Forest Oak
- 12mm Dream Home Kensington Manor Fumed African Ironwood
- 12mm Dream Home St. James African Mahogany
- 12mm Dream Home St. James Chimney Rock Charcoal
- 12mm Dream Home St. James Nantucket Beech
What is a Class Action Lawsuit?
A Class Action Lawsuit stems from the claims of various individuals against an entity or large company. These claims are combined into one large case against the defendant, so that each individual does not have to file their own case. This type of lawsuit is helpful to individuals in cases like the one against Lumber Liquidators because it allows consumers to aggregate their claims in order to recover damages or potentially stop illegal practices.
Generally, a lawyer files a class action suit on behalf of one or more individuals who have been wronged by the same conduct causing harm to others. These individuals seek to become representatives of the others, or Class Representatives. As such, the Class Representatives seek compensation from the wrongdoer for themselves and for those similarly situated.
How this May Affect Consumers
The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos, P.C., filed a class action suit against Lumber Liquidators on April 2, 2015, alleging that laminate flooring sold to consumers contained harmful levels of formaldehyde above the limits set by CARB and the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act. The class action suit seeks damages on behalf of Marylanders who unwittingly purchased formaldehyde-laden flooring from Lumber Liquidators. If you believe that you have purchased flooring from Lumber Liquidators that could be contaminated, you may be eligible to have your flooring tested.