A Florida couple has filed a lawsuit against home improvement retailer Lowe’s and floor manufacturer Armstrong World Industries, accusing the companies of selling laminate flooring that emits toxic levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

The plaintiffs, William Woodworth and Diane Pilkerton, researched the various laminate flooring product options, ultimately choosing Armstrong’s product whose label stated that the flooring satisfied California’s standards for formaldehyde content, when it actually did not.

They bought about $2,000 worth of 12mm high-gloss Woodland Walnut laminate flooring made by Armstrong and sold by Lowe’s after checking the product’s label to make sure it complied with formaldehyde regulations set by the California Air Resources Board and adopted by federal regulators.

After learning about formaldehyde contamination problems from other laminate wood products imported from China, the plaintiffs sent samples of the flooring to a well-respected lab for testing. The results showed it emitted formaldehyde gas well beyond the maximum allowable concentrations.

“Rather than seek to effectively remedy the harm and the risks to its customers’ health and safety caused by its formaldehyde-laden flooring products,” the complaint states, “Armstrong has instead sought to cover up the dangers inherent in its products with misinformation and with a disingenuous public relations campaign that is designed to mislead its customers.”
Like other plaintiffs suing Lumber Liquidators over toxic flooring, the Woodworths accuse Armstrong of using untrustworthy Chinese mills that use excessive amounts of formaldehyde in the manufacturing process to save time and money.

“The lawsuit alleges Armstrong offshored its manufacturing process to Chinese plants operated by individuals with no regard for the safety of American consumers,” says Beasley Allen attorney Clay Barnett. “The initial evidence then indicates Lowe’s retailed the contaminated laminate knowing it came from China. In doing so, it appears both companies put the American consumer at risk.”

In addition to increasing the risk of cancer and leukemia, formaldehyde exposure can cause burning eyes, nose and throat irritation, coughing, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Toxic flooring may be especially dangerous to toddlers and young children who play and crawl on the floor and have underdeveloped immune systems.

Beasley Allen’s co-counsel in the proposed class of customers, told Law 360 that Armstrong’s quality and compliance control are woefully inadequate.

“They’re trusting these Chinese manufacturers and instead of scientifically testing in reasonable intervals the core that is actually in the laminate flooring, they’re putting people at risk,” the plaintiffs’ counsel Anthony Garcia said.

For more information about this litigation, contact Beasley Allen Principal & Consumer Fraud Section Head Dee Miles, or the other lawyers in this section who are looking into these claims: Clay Barnett, Archie Grubb, or Andrew Brashier.

Source: Law 360

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