Lumber Liquidators Flooring Is Defective. Our firm is investigating class action lawsuits involving bamboo and other flooring products manufactured by Lumber Liquidators. There have been reports that certain Lumber Liquidators flooring is allegedly defective, and prone to premature cracking, splitting, warping, and shrinking. Allegations also include that Lumber Liquidators flooring contains excessively high levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. If you or someone you know has purchased Lumber Liquidators’ bamboo and other flooring, contact Parker Waichman LLP today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.
Defective Lumber Liquidators Morning Star Bamboo Flooring Allegedly Leads to Premature Cracking, Splitting
Lumber Liquidators marketed its Morning Star Bamboo Flooring as being “extremely durable” and free of defects for at least 30 years. A class action lawsuit filed in California, however, alleges that the flooring may undergo cracking, splitting, warping, and shrinking much sooner than the warranty claims.
According to the lawsuit, a California resident had Morning Star Bamboo Flooring installed in early October 2013. The flooring was installed by a licensed flooring contractor in an unoccupied home. The Plaintiff alleges that within weeks, she noticed defects such as scratching and splintering. Upon contacting Lumber Liquidators by phone on October 30, 2013, she was instructed to complete a “General Disclosure Statement” and mail it to the company’s Claims department. The lawsuit states that the Plaintiff’s home was inspected by an employee of Inspect Solutions, a company retained by Lumber Liquidators. The inspector blamed the issue on the Plaintiff and the installers and claimed that no defects were present in the product, the lawsuit alleges. The Plaintiff continues to observe warping, splitting, buckling, and shrinking, the lawsuit alleges.
Lumber Liquidators allegedly hid or failed to disclose the defects of the product, the lawsuit alleges. The company repeatedly marketed the product as being durable and free of defects, but the class action alleges that these representations are false; that the flooring is defectively designed, tested, and manufactured; and that these defects will allegedly result in warping, buckling, splintering, and unreasonable scratching when the product is used as intended.
The allegedly defective flooring has caused the Plaintiff and other customers to suffer from damages as the faulty product continues to fail; this may potentially cause damage to other building elements and property, costing consumers excessive amounts of money long before the warranty expires.
Parker Waichman LLP filed the first amended class action complaint over Lumber Liquidators on February 13, 2015, naming Lumber Liquidators, Inc. as the defendant, and brought on behalf of a number of individuals who have alleged a number of defects and damages associated with flooring products manufactured by Lumber Liquidators. The action also indicates that Lumber Liquidators makes a number of claims regarding the quality of its flooring; however, the lawsuit alleges that these claims are untrue:
- “They’re finely crafted to ensure they’re free of defects.”
- “Each Morning Star floor is manufactured to be exceptionally durable so it withstands the rigors of everyday life.”
- Morning Star Bamboo is two- to two-and-a-half times harder than red oak, so it holds up well to “pretty much anything you can put it through.”
- “To make strand bamboo, shredded bamboo fibers are compressed under extreme heat and pressure. This manufacturing process yields flooring that is even harder and more dense than traditional bamboo floors.”
- “Morning Star Bamboo Flooring is one of the best bamboo floors on the market today. It is produced from old growth bamboo reeds that are at least 4 years old, thereby increasing hardness. Morning Star Bamboo Flooring creates a naturally beautiful and ecologically friendly product that evokes a feeling of luxury.”
Reports also indicate that Lumber Liquidators flooring contains significantly high levels of the carcinogen, formaldehyde.
Lumber Liquidators Defective Flooring Subject of “60 Minutes” Investigation
A March 1, 2015 “60 Minutes” report was aired regarding allegedly serious issues at Lumber Liquidators’ factories located in China. The report followed a probe of factories that manufacture laminate flooring for Lumber Liquidators and certified laboratory testing of the product. Although the manufacturer indicates that it is “CARB 2” compliant with California standards, the investigation revealed that, according to Lumber Liquidators’ factory managers, the lumber was not compliant.
The report found that some homeowners are removing their Lumber Liquidators flooring, even if they are unable to afford replacement flooring due to an array of defect issues. For example, “60 Minutes” reported that hundreds of thousands of homes nationwide likely have the potentially defective Lumber Liquidators Chinese laminate flooring and that the flooring may be in excess of formaldehyde standards.
The probe involved visits to the China-based factories. The media outlet purchased a number of boxes of the flooring from retailers in California, including Lumber Liquidators. Follow-up testing at certified laboratories revealed that the U.S.-made flooring contained formaldehyde, but in levels acceptable in this country; however, all of the China-made samples failed formaldehyde emission standards testing.
The investigation also indicated that “60 Minutes” purchased another 31 boxes of China-made laminate flooring at stores in Virginia, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and New York. Testing at two certified labs revealed that only one of these samples was in compliance with California formaldehyde emissions standards.
Securities and Exchange Commission Considering Criminal Charges Against Lumber Liquidators
In a February 2015 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lumber Liquidators stated: “On September 26, 2013, sealed search warrants were executed at our corporate offices in Toano and Richmond, Virginia by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” The filing indicated that the SEC sought information, mainly documentation, regarding some of the “wood flooring products.” Lumber Liquidators also indicated that the Department of Justice stated “that it is contemplating seeking criminal charges under the Lacey Act.”
High Levels of Formaldehyde
In addition to allegations of defects and premature failure, Lumber Liquidators has also been sued over the levels of formaldehyde used in their wood flooring. For example, a class action lawsuit filed in Virginia alleges that the company’s Chinese Wood Flooring releases excessively high levels of formaldehyde and also alleges that Lumber Liquidators illegally sources the wood from China and other countries.
Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (“VOC”), meaning that, at room temperature the formaldehyde will be released in gas form. The National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen. Even during short-term exposure, the chemical is linked to adverse effects such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, the lawsuit alleges.
Due to formaldehyde’s harmful effects, various laws have been put in place to limit its exposure. Exposure to formaldehyde most often causes burning eyes, nose and throat irritation, coughing, headaches, dizziness, joint pain, and nausea. In wood flooring materials, formaldehyde may be released into the air in a process known as “off-gassing.”
Pressed-wood and wood-based products may be “a significant formaldehyde source” according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The lawsuit alleges that wood products sourced from China are especially associated with excessively high levels of formaldehyde.
Lumber Liquidators allegedly schemed to import flooring into the U.S. that fails to comply with current formaldehyde standards. The lawsuit alleges that the formaldehyde omitted from the flooring is multiple times the maximum permitted at the time of purchase. Allegedly, the company has benefited from making misrepresentations about the levels of formaldehyde in its flooring and through its cheap and illegal sourcing of lumber from China.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes formaldehyde as being classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The NCI also indicates that formaldehyde has also been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Research of workers exposed to formaldehyde reveal a potential tie between formaldehyde exposures and some cancers, such as leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer.