Pa. couple file class action against laminate flooring company

By Jim Boyle | Mar 11, 2015

SCRANTON - One of the world's top flooring distributors continues to reel from reports alleging the company used unsafe chemicals in the manufacture of its products.

A class action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania against Lumber Liquidators, one of dozens of actions lodged against the laminate flooring company for allegedly selling flooring tainted with hazardous levels of formaldehyde.

The lead plaintiffs  sought a product that would be easier for their asthma symptoms exhibited by their seven-year-old daughter, according to the complaint.

The 28-page lawsuit filed on Monday alleges that Lumber Liquidators sold composite flooring manufactured in China tainted with hazardous levels of formaldehyde while falsely labeling their products as meeting or exceeding California Air Resources Board (CARB) emissions standards.

According to the complaint, on March 17, plaintiffs Andrew and Carinne Karlick purchased several hundred square feet of Dream Home Kensington Manor Warm Springs Chestnut Laminate Flooring at a Lumber Liquidators store in Wilkes Barre.

Carinne suffers from asthma, and their daughter has begun exhibiting asthmatic symptoms, the claim says.

According to the complaint, the Karlicks were aware of risks that building products could contain formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals and specifically tried to ensure that the composite flooring they purchased was safe.

“Soon after the Lumber Liquidators composite flooring was installed in their home, Mrs. Karlick and the Karlick’s daughter experienced worse asthma symptoms than they normally experienced," the complaint states.

"In October, the Karlick’s daughter experienced a severe attack that required her to be treated with a nebulizer and to receive oxygen treatment – which she had never needed before. Her symptoms then complicated and developed into pneumonia.”

A report from “60 Minutes” recently stated that all laminate flooring carried by Lumber Liquidators bears a label indicating that it is CARB Phase 2–compliant, but that its flooring manufactured in China that bears this label is in fact not compliant.

The report revealed that glue and resin used to bond the pressed wood together can be a significant source of formaldehyde gas.

The suit seeks injunctive and declarative relief on five counts, including breach of warranty, violations of Pennsylvania's unfair trade practices and consumer protection law, and fraudulent concealment.

The class also seeks damages in excess of $5 million for restitution from purchasing the product, plus compensatory damages.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

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