June 2, 2015 — At least 118 class action lawsuits have been filed in 30 states against Lumber Liquidators, and a woman from West Virginia has become the latest plaintiff to accuse the company of selling Chinese laminate floors with toxic levels of formaldehyde.
The Insurance Journal reports that Genevieve Baldwin of Weirton filed a federal lawsuit (PDF) in West Virginia after watching a 60 Minutes report in March.
The reporters interviewed employees at Chinese mills who openly admitted boosting the amount of formaldehyde to save Lumber Liquidators 10-15% on the price, and then mislabeling boxes of flooring as compliant with state and federal laws.
Tests commissioned by 60 Minutes and other investigators have found elevated levels of formaldehyde. The problem is that formaldehyde “off-gassing” from the floors can be a major source of indoor air pollution. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, but its long-term effects at low doses are still unknown.
On May 28, a panel of federal judges met in Minnesota to decide whether to centralize at least 118 similar class actions into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in one federal court, according to an update (PDF) from the company. Lumber Liquidators has requested a court in Virginia, the state where the company is headquartered and about one-third of the class actions are already pending.
Lumber Liquidators continues to insist the flooring is safe, but the company has stopped sourcing products from China for now. Instead, they are buying products from North America and Europe.