Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Court Throws Out Lumber Liquidators’ Lawsuit Against Environmental Group" (2015-04-16)

* Court Deems Lumber Liquidators’ Case a “SLAPP” Suit
* Orders Flooring Giant to Pay Attorneys’ Fees and Costs
* Also see "GCM announces new testing results of Lumber Liquidators Chinese-made laminates; All Chinese-made laminates purchased for testing failed CARB standards" (2015-03-02) [].
(Oakland, CA) Yesterday a California environmental advocacy group won a resounding Court judgment against flooring giant Lumber Liquidators’ claims of defamation.  In a strongly worded 21-page decision, a judge ruled that Lumber Liquidator’s lawsuit against Global Community Monitor (GCM) was a strategic lawsuit against public participation and a clear violation of California’s anti-SLAPP law.
The court battle stemmed from a Proposition 65 lawsuit GCM filed last year against the company for high levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde found in Chinese-made laminate flooring sold by the company.  Lumber Liquidators responded with a defamation suit, which was struck down yesterday.
“Lumber Liquidators tried to silence us and the court saw through it,” stated Denny Larson, Executive Director of Global Community Monitor.  “The court recognized that we have a constitutional right to free speech and the public likewise has a right to know if any product they buy may be harmful to their families’ health.”
California’s anti-SLAPP statute provides for the “early dismissal of unmeritorious claims filed to interfere with the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for the redress of grievances.” As Judge Carvill noted in his decision, “The anti-SLAPP statute is ‘construed broadly’ to achieve its goal of ensuring that ‘participation in matters of public significance’ is not ‘chilled through abuse of the judicial process.’” The judge goes on to conclude that Lumber Liquidators’ defamation claims against GCM do not “have any likelihood of success.”
In addition, the Court ordered Lumber Liquidators to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by GCM for having to defend the meritless SLAPP suit.  GCM’s attorney, Richard Drury of Lozeau Drury LLP stated, “This is a good day for free speech and for the consumers of the State of California who are concerned that Chinese-made laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators contains cancer-causing formaldehyde far above levels allowed by law.”

Global Community Monitor is a nonprofit environmental health and justice organization empowering communities to prevent their exposure to toxic chemicals and promote healthy outcomes for all. Global Community Monitor is joined in the Proposition 65 lawsuit by Sunshine Park, a firm affiliated with private investment companies that have substantial short financial exposure to Lumber Liquidators. Sunshine Park and its affiliates have financed extensive testing and have conducted substantial on-the-ground investigation regarding Chinese-made laminate flooring production.

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