Week Adjourned: 12.13.13 – Lumber Liquidators, Visiting Nurses, Wal-Mart

The week’s top class action lawsuits and settlements including Lumber Liquidators, Visiting Nurses and Wal-Mart gas can explosions.

Lumber LiquidatorsTop Class Action Lawsuits

Lumber Liquidators is in the woods over allegations it sold defective Chinese wood flooring that emits excessive levels of formaldehyde (raising memories of the Chinese Drywall debacle… )

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the lawsuit states, “Indeed, contrary to Lumber Liquidators’ repeated, detailed representations that its flooring complies with strict formaldehyde standards on its product labels, website, and elsewhere, the toxic formaldehyde emissions from the company’s Chinese flooring products are multiple times the maximum permissible limits set by those standards at the time of purchase.”

FYI—in 2011, formaldehyde was described as “known to be a human carcinogen,” by the US National Toxicology Program: a carcinogen is a substance or agent suspected to cause cancer. Terrific.

The plaintiffs in the Lumber Liquidators class action lawsuit, Donnie Williamson, Melissa Stini and Jennifer Hogencamp, further claim that the floor is illegally sourced through China from other countries, including Russia, threatening “critical habitat and endangered species.”

“Plaintiffs would have paid significantly less, if they purchased Chinese flooring at all, had they known that the products were sourced from endangered habitats and contained elevated levels of the toxin formaldehyde,” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs contend their flooring purchases—all of which were installed in their homes—are now “markedly less valuable.”

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for installation and removal costs, remediation costs, restocking fees, loss of use and diminished value, in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs, and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest “at the highest rates allowed by law” on the damages awarded.

Another Case of Overworked and Underpaid? You know, the week just wouldn’t be complete without an unpaid wages and overtime class action. This week, it’s Nurses at Baystate Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and Hospice who filed a class action lawsuit against Baystate Health. The Nurses are seeking to recover unpaid overtime and wages that have allegedly been withheld illegally by the employer—for several years.

The VNA nurses are routinely required to make preparations before their first home care visits for the day and subsequently to complete lengthy documentation of their visits, but are frequently not paid for that work which can sometimes take several hours per day. Computerized documentation has become more lengthy and cumbersome in recent years, but no accommodation has been made to allow nurses time to complete the required documentation during the normal course of the workday. As a result nurses have been forced to work many hours of unpaid time each week.

Baystate has been locked in a two-year dispute with its nurses at Baystate Franklin Medical Center regarding its demand to limit those nurses the right to overtime pay, while at the same time the organization has been failing to pay its BVNA&H nurses for their hours of work. Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice is a wholly owned subsidiary of Baystate Health. While allegedly withholding wages illegally from the nurses, Baystate Health is one of the most profitable health care conglomerates in the state, and its. CEO, Mark Tolosky, is one of the highest paid hospital CEOs in New England with a salary and benefits package of nearly $2 million annually.

Top Settlements

Wal-Mart Settles Exploding Gas Cans. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer (and among the most frequently sued), will pay $25 million as a settlement contribution to resolve a raft of personal injury lawsuits filed by people who were injured or had someone they knew killed by exploding portable plastic gas cans, NBC News reports. Wal-Mart is the largest US retailed of plastic gas cans, and sold tens of millions of Blitz gas cans, which, the lawsuits allege, had a safety defect. Blitz, the manufacturer of the gas cans, is in bankruptcy, largely due to the litigation and settlements.

During the past decade more than 80 lawsuits have been filed by people who allege the exploding gas cans caused them burn injuries. Defendants include some retailers as well as the manufacturer. Wal-Mart told NBC News it’s been named as a defendant in 24 of the lawsuits.

In those lawsuits, Blitz and Wal-Mart are accused of knowingly selling a defective product that could explode and produce catastrophic and sometimes fatal injuries. The lawsuits further claim the defendant (Blitz) refused to add a safety device, known as a flame arrester, to make the cans safer.

Parties to the Wal-Mart gas can lawsuits, including Blitz USA’s estate, debtors, participating insurers and Walmart, have agreed to contribute $161 million to settle with many of the plaintiffs, while denying liability. Wal-Mart’s settlement contribution amounts to just over 15 percent of the proposed $161 million fund that would settle dozens of lawsuits. A hearing on the proposed settlement is set for early next year NBC News reports.

Ok Folks, That’s all for this week. See you at the Bar!

 

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