Product Liability Class Action: Treated Wood Products
Analysis Group was retained in a mass tort case involving class action claims by customers of the manufacturers and distributors of chemically treated wood products. We assisted the client in identifying experts for the case and developing potential conceptual frameworks to defeat class certification, which included the identification of variability in the manufacture, sale, composition, and use of treated wood, as well as variations in human exposures, consumer preferences, and purchasing behaviors. Our work included assisting Professor John Hauser of MIT in designing a consumer survey to determine the characteristics of purchasers of wood structures made with treated wood. These characteristics included: the types of wood structures purchasers had on their property that were made in part or entirely with treated wood; the methods for building or assembling these structures; and factors that influenced the decision to purchase treated wood, including:
- Structural characteristics
- Wear and tear
- Environmental issues
- Alternative options
- Purchaser demographics
The survey data revealed that chemically treated wood products are used in numerous outdoor structures, each of which might cause different impacts on putative class members. Professor Hauser's survey played an important role in the trial judge's denial of class certification. The judge quoted from the survey in his decision.