June 16, 2015 — More than 100 lawsuits accusing Lumber Liquidators of selling Chinese laminate floors with toxic levels of formaldehyde have been centralized in a federal court in Virginia.
The order (PDF) was filed by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on June 12.
The lawsuits will be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, MDL No. 2627. The court was selected because Lumber Liquidators is headquartered in Virginia, and a securities class action has been pending in the court since November 2013 (Case No. 4:13-cv-157).
All of the lawsuits make similar allegations, according to the judges:
“Despite being marketed as compliant with regulations of the California Air Resources Board and other applicable regulations, plaintiffs allege that their laminate flooring emits illegal and unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.”
Those allegations against Lumber Liquidators went mainstream in March, when 60 Minutes aired an investigative report. Over the next four months, the company’s stock tumbled by 70%. In May, CEO Robert Lynch unexpectedly resigned.
While the company continues to insist its floors are safe, Lumber Liquidators has stopped selling Chinese-made laminate wood flooring. For customers who are concerned about formaldehyde, the company has provided home air testing kits.
However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has questioned the usefulness of the tests because they only look at formaldehyde in the air, not at the source. The Justice Department is also investigating possible criminal charges against Lumber Liquidators for violating environmental laws banning sales of illegally-harvested wood.