When a company is publicly owned, it needs to be aware that it has a responsibility, not only to its customers, but also to its shareholders. The recent class action lawsuits against Lumber Liquidators are good examples of this fact.
Shareholders filed a lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators when it came to light that the company had allegedly imported wood from the habitat of an endangered species and sold wood with elevated levels of formaldehyde. This lawsuit demonstrates the fact that selling unsafe materials has the potential to cause harm, not only to the customers who purchase the material, but also the people who have invested money in the company.
Shortly after the shareholders filed their lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators, customers who had purchased wood from the company filed a similar lawsuit.
Lumber Liquidators has been under investigation recently for importing wood from China which was allegedly harvested in Russia from the habitat of the endangered Siberian tiger. Taking lumber from the habitat of an endangered species is in direct violation of the Lacey Act, a conservation law which has been in existence in the United States since 1900. The Act was put in place to protect plants and wild animals from the hazards of industrialization. Among other things, the Act prohibits trading in wildlife, fish, and plants which have been illegally harvested, transported, or sold. In 2008, the Act was amended to include anti-illegal-logging provisions which makes it illegal to take wood from the habitat of an endangered species.
In addition to violating the Lacey Act, the lawsuits allege that Lumber Liquidators sold wood which contained unsafe levels of formaldehyde. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, formaldehyde is an important component in the production of processed wood products and other home goods. However, it has also “been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans”. The gas also has the potential to cause other health problems, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, wheezing and coughing, fatigue, and severe allergic reactions. Because of these health concerns, the federal government has imposed limits on the amount of formaldehyde that it deems safe to use in wood products.
Needless to say, when consumers discovered that the wood they had purchased might not be safe, they expressed serious concerns regarding the matter. The consumers’ lawsuit was filed by three consumers who are petitioning the court to be named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Lumber Liquidators. Each of these consumers purchased wood from Lumber Liquidators and had it installed in their homes. They all allege that, at the time that they bought the wood, it was represented as being in compliance with both the Lacey Act and formaldehyde standards. The three plaintiffs allege that they were entirely dependent upon Lumber Liquidators’s representation of the wood and that they would not have purchased it if they had known that the wood might contain unsafe levels of formaldehyde.
The consumers’ lawsuit has been filed on behalf of everyone in the United States “who purchased and installed wood flooring from Lumber Liquidators Holdings, Inc., either directly or through an agent, that was sourced, processed, or manufactured in China”.
The Chicago class action lawyers at Lubin Austermuehle located in Chicago and Oak Brook near Elgin and Rockford have decades of experience representing consumers in class actions and individual consumer fraud cases throughout the greater Chicago area and the Mid-West region, including Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. Class action lawsuits give consumers a way to assert their rights in cases of consumer fraud, even if they lack the resources individually to fight a much larger opponent. Please contact us today online, at (630) 333-0333, or at 630-333-0333 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.