Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. was accused in a lawsuit of supplying consumers with unreliable kits to test for formaldehyde as federal authorities investigate reports the company sold flooring with high levels of the cancer-causing chemical.
The home testing kits weren’t independently evaluated and don’t use methods recommended by California air quality regulators, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in San Jose, Calif.
The retailer offered free testing while sales of its products plummeted after CBS’s “60 Minutes” report on March 1 that laminate flooring made for the company in China contained elevated levels of formaldehyde.
The lawsuit was filed by a Florida couple who said an independent technician tested the flooring they planned to install in their baby’s room and concluded it was unsafe.
Ryan and Kristin Brandt said Lumber Liquidators told them their test wasn’t accurate and to instead use its kit. The company said the testing should be done “solely on the air in the home and not on the actual composite flooring product,” according to the complaint.
The case is the fifth class action filed against Lumber Liquidators by the Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.
Representatives of Toano, Virginia-based Lumber Liquidators didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages after regular business hours seeking comment on the lawsuit.
The company has said its products are safe and that “60 Minutes” used improper tests that employ what’s known in the industry as a “deconstructive” method to determine formaldehyde levels.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot F. Kaye said his agency won’t use that method because it doesn’t replicate how floors are used in the home, Kaye said, echoing Lumber Liquidators’ argument. The agency would push for a recall if it finds the flooring products are hazardous, he said.
The case is Washington v. Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc., 15-cv-01475, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).
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