Federal lawsuits against Lumber Liquidators Inc. alleging the company made and sold laminate flooring with dangerous levels of formaldehyde are being consolidated for multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Virginia.
The U.S. Judicial Panel of Multidistrict Litigation’s June 12 ruling combines 113 lawsuits filed against Lumber Liquidators by plaintiffs in 29 states who accuse the flooring manufacturer of misrepresenting its Chinese-made laminate flooring as compliant with California Air Resources Board (CARB) Phase 2 safety standards, which Congress adopted for federal standards that will go into effect this year.
The complaints allege the flooring contains toxic levels of carcinogenic formaldehyde, which can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as asthma and other chronic respiratory distress ranging from mild to severe. Formaldehyde exposure has also been linked to several cancers, including nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia.
Lumber Liquidators, headquartered in Toano, Va., asked that the litigation be transferred to its home district. The panel’s decision will also allow the court to coordinate litigation of the MDL cases with a proposed class-action lawsuit filed against the company in 2013. According to Bloomberg, that complaint alleges Lumber Liquidators violated federal securities laws by illegally sourcing wood from protected Russian forests and misrepresented its flooring products.
The number of lawsuits Lumber Liquidators faces is expected to swell considering the potentially toxic flooring has been installed in hundreds of thousands of homes nationwide. Consumers are also suing the company for the free home-testing kits it provided, which they claim aren’t independently evaluated and don’t employ methods recommended by air quality regulators. Homeowners say the tests deliberately give false results to foster a false sense of security.
The company is also the subject of multiple state and federal probes, including criminal charges sought by the U.S. Department of Justice for its alleged violations of the Lacey Act, which bans a variety of illegally harvested wood and other products.