Judge Axes Some False Ad Claims in LL Case, Retains Others

New York, NY, June 26, 2017-A Virginia federal judge overseeing multidistrict litigation over Lumber Liquidators’s allegedly hazardous laminate wood flooring axed California state law false advertising claims and Illinois state consumer fraud claims, but preserved other state law claims that the flooring was deceptively marketed, according to a Law360 article called “Lumber Liquidators Gets Claims Trimmed From Flooring MDL” by Emily Field.

The legal news service offered the following report, “U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga said that the California consumers hadn’t shown that they relied on allegedly misleading advertising in buying the flooring, as required under the state’s false advertising law and that the Illinois consumers similarly hadn’t shown that they were directly deceived. He also granted summary judgment on allegations that the company violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act, finding that the consumers hadn’t shown they were injured by the alleged misrepresentation.

“The multidistrict litigation over the company’s Chinese-manufactured flooring was consolidated in June 2015.

“Lumber Liquidators has been under siege since CBS' ‘60 Minutes’ in March 2015 reported that the company’s Chinese-manufactured laminate flooring contained levels of formaldehyde beyond the standard allowed by the California Air Resources Board.

“Two years before that, CARB told the company that some of its products had failed emissions testing, including some of the products eventually resold to the consumers in the litigation, according to the ruling.

Lumber Liquidators retained another laboratory that confirmed at least some of its products’ emissions exceeded CARB standards, according to the judge. But despite that, the company didn’t change its website, the judge said.

“‘However, on the same day that CARB notified Lumber Liquidators of further CARB test results indicating impermissible formaldehyde levels (May 7, 2015), Lumber Liquidators suspended all sales of its products,’ the judge said.

“And after the 60 Minutes report, the company’s CEO wrote in a letter posted on its website that its products were 100% safe and complied with applicable regulations, including California standards for formaldehyde emissions for composite wood products, according to the ruling.

The judge declined to nix allegations that the company violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, saying there was evidence that the plaintiffs from that state saw ‘something’ on the Lumber Liquidators’ website that the products complied with California safety standards when they were researching their purchase.

“He also declined to grant summary judgment on claims that the company violated California unfair business laws, Texas Deceptive Trade Practice Act and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, among others.

"’We were pleased by the court's decision to grant our motion to reconsider his dismissal of the California [unfair buisness] claim and the claim under Texas state law,’ Steven Toll of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC told Law360, referring to a previous order dismissing those claims.

“Additionally, the judge shot down the consumers’ bid for a declaration that Lumber Liquidators’ sales and advertising practices violate CARB standards, since the products had already been yanked from store shelves.”

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