Huge pay-out for toxic sofa victims

26 April 2010

Insurers for a number of High Street chains in the UK have been ordered to pay up to £20 million ($31 million) in compensation to 2,000 people who received chemical burns from leather sofas made in China. Burns were caused by dimethyl fumarate (DMF) sachets used to prevent mould growth during shipment. The ruling was made by the high court in London on April 26.

The victims are expected to get about £9,000 ($13,700) each plus other expenses for loss of weddings, holidays and wages. Lawyers representing around 2,000 people believe it is the largest group consumer action in British legal history.

The group that owns retail outlets Argos and Homebase, furniture chain Walmsleys and other smaller firms had admitted liability for selling the contaminated Chinese-made sofas.

Land of Leather customers did not get the pay-out, after an earlier ruling. Last month the court ruled that victims who bought their furniture from the now dissolved Land of Leather would not be in line for a pay-out. Its insurers, Zurich, successfully argued that the company had breached the terms of its insurance policy, and therefore it did not need to pay out.

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