Ashley Furniture and LIA in bonded leather lawsuit

12 October 2012

A federal judge in Greensboro, NC has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit accusing Ashley Furniture and a trade association of denigrating a supplier of bonded leather through false advertising and other misrepresentations.

US District Judge William Osteen Jr. ruled that a complaint filed by Design Resources Inc. and its president, Alan Naness, contained allegations that "are sufficiently plausible" to allow the case to proceed.

Design Resources accused Ashley, Ashley President Todd Wanek, the trade association Leather Industries of America, and its Research Director, Nicholas Cory, of numerous violations of the federal Lanham Act and North Carolina statutes that prohibit unfair trade practices.

The suit, filed in February 2010, claims that Ashley conducted a "smear campaign" against NextLeather, a bonded leather product Design Resources introduced to the US market in January 2007.

The suit claims the campaign largely was conducted through advertisements in the US trade publication Furniture Today, as well as a July 2, 2007, news story in the same publication. In the news story, Cory is quoted extensively about his concerns over characterising bonded leather as "leather."

Although Judge Osteen denied the motion to dismiss the lawsuit, he did grant separate motions by Cory and Wanek to drop them as individual defendants.

Osteen ruled the two could not be sued in North Carolina because they are residents of Ohio and Wisconsin, respectively.

No date has been set for further court action.

Source: Furniture Today –

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