Lumber Liquidators Investigation
Flooring Customers File Class Action Suit Against Lumber Liquidators For Deceptive Sales Practices
A November 2013, shareholder lawsuit filed against Lumber Liquidators has alleged that the company has been illegally harvesting lumber from China. Subsequently a class action lawsuit has been filed in Virginia federal court. The class action lawsuit alleges that Lumber Liquidators engaged in a scheme to illegally import into the United States and falsely advertise and sell, Chinese flooring that fails to comply with the relevant and applicable formaldehyde emissions standards. It is further alleges that the flooring emits and off-gasses excessive levels of formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that is dangerous to humans, it is alleged that affected Lumber Liquidators flooring may contain potentially harmful amounts. Formaldehyde is often used in in the adhesives and resins used to produce wood flooring. This is especially true of pressed wood and wood-based products like hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard. Such products containing urea-formaldehyde or “UF” resins, may be “a significant formaldehyde source.” However, the formaldehyde can be released through a process known as off-gassing, which in high levels can be dangerous to humans.
According to the initial class action complaint filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, an online blogger for a stock market and financial analysis blog first noticed the problem. This blogger submitted samples of Lumber Liquidators’ flooring, purchased at a California location to an independent lab to be tested. The tests confirmed that the flooring had emissions levels above allowable limits in the United States. Despite this, the complaint specifically alleges that Lumber Liquidators marketing materials, including the company’s website specifically represent to customers that its flooring products comply with the formaldehyde emission regulations propounded by CARB.
The proposed class action also accuses Lumber Liquidators of selling wood flooring that is illegally sources through China from other countries (including Russia), threatening critical habitat and endangering species in violation of the Lacey Act. The lawsuit goes on to allege that customers overpaid for a product that customers may not have purchased had they known its true origins and potential risks.
The plaintiffs purchased all purchased their flooring directly from lumber liquidators and models include: Mayflower Birch; Morningstar Bamboo and St. James 12mm Blacksburg Barn Board. The plaintiffs allege that at the time of the purchases, Lumber Liquidators falsely represented and warranted the flooring to be compliant with strict formaldehyde standards, as well as that the flooring was manufactured in compliance with the Lacey Act.