ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation last week decided to consolidate at least 10 actions filed over a line of Chinese wood flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators that plaintiffs allege emit “excessive levels” of formaldehyde.
The six-member panel issued its three-page transfer order Friday.
“After considering the argument of counsel, we find that the actions in this litigation involve common questions of fact, and that centralization in the (U.S. District Court for the) Eastem District of Virginia will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation,” wrote Sarah S. Vance, chair of the panel.
“All actions involve common factual questions regarding whether Lumber Liquidators falsely represented that its Chinese-manufactured laminate flooring complied with Califomia Air Resources Board standards and other legal requirements governing the emissions of formaldehyde.
“Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings (including on issues of class certification and Daubert motion practice), and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.”
The plaintiffs in the class actions contend their flooring purchases, which were installed in their homes, are now “markedly less valuable.”
The panel’s order affects at least 10 class action lawsuits, but more than 100 related, or tag-along, actions could be transferred into the MDL.
Vance, in the order, shot down the suggestion by some plaintiffs, who supported transferring the actions to other districts, that the MDL wasn’t suited to the speed of the Eastern District of Virginia’s “rocket docket.”
The term refers to a court or other tribunal that is noted for its speedy disposition of cases, often by maintaining strict adherence to the law as it pertains to filing deadlines.
“When pressed at oral argument, however, plaintiffs failed to articulate precisely how proceeding at an expeditious pace would prejudice the parties,” Vance noted, adding that the panel has transferred “relatively few” MDLs to the federal court.
“Further, centralization allows for the coordination of this litigation with a securities action against Lumber Liquidators that was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia in November 2013, which has grown to include allegations concerning formaldehyde emissions from Chinese-made laminate flooring.”
District Judge Anthony Trenga will preside over the matter, according to the panel’s order.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at email@example.com.