And the hits just keep on coming for Lumber Liquidators.
A little while back we told you about 60 Minutes' expose on the unsafe and illegal formaldehyde levels found in Lumber Liquidators' laminate flooring. Since the show aired, the beleaguered flooring company has been hit with more than 100 class action lawsuits and investigated by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and the California Air Resources board.
As the fallout continues, Lumber Liquidators Holdings has now been hit with criminal charges by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Formaldehyde in Flooring
Formaldehyde is a colorless, pungent gas that is known to cause lung and nasopharyngeal cancer, eye, nose, and throat irritation, chest pains, bronchitis, and ulcers.
While formaldehyde can be found in certain products, such as the glue used to make laminate flooring, many states and the federal government have set limits on the acceptable level of formaldehyde in consumer products. Independent testing has shown that Lumber Liquidators' Chinese made laminate flooring exceed California's formaldehyde emissions standards by 600-700 percent.
The U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing criminal charges under the Lacey Act.
The Lacey Act, passed in 1900, outlaws the interstate traffic of birds and animals illegally killed in their home state. The Lacey Act has since been expanded to enforce state, federal, and foreign conservation laws protecting animals and rare plants.
As it applies to Lumber Liquidators, the Lacey Act makes it "unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell ... any plant taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any Federal, State, foreign, or Indian tribal law, treaty, or regulation." The company's Chinese-imported wood laminate flooring allegedly violates California's air safety standards.
If convicted, the company may face criminal and civil penalties. Civil penalties can be as high as $10,000. Criminal penalties are much more severe. A felony offense under this law carries a maximum fine of $500,000 and up to five years in prison for each violation of the Act.
If you believe you may have been injured by high formaldehyde levels in your Lumber Liquidators flooring, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help you pursue a claim.