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Land of Leather customers win payout for 'toxic sofa' claims

Published: 16 December 2010
Settlement of £734,400 awarded to more than 400 customers who suffered injuries and burns from sofas they purchased from collapsed furniture retailer.
Land of Leather customers win payout for 'toxic sofa' claims
The decision was made yesterday at the Royal Courts of Justice by Mr Justice MacDuff who approved payouts to 408 customers who had suffered skin complaints from chemically-treated furniture bought from Land of Leather.

Medical tests revealed the cause of the burns and painful injuries as fungicide dimethyl fumurate (DMF), which had been present in sachet form in the sofas manufactured by Chinese companies Linkwise and Eurosofa. The substance has now been banned by the EU after consumers in a number of European countries suffered skin burns and breathing problems from the use of DMF in imported leather products.

The case forms part of a group litigation - thought to be the largest action taken in the UK for faulty consumer goods - against Argos, Land of Leather and Walmsleys. The three retailers admitted liability for selling the contaminated sofas and, in April, between 2,500 and 2,000 claimants shared a record payout of £20m.

It had been thought that the Land of Leather victims would miss out on compensation after the furniture retailer went into administration and its insurer Zurich refused to pay out, citing a breach of its policy. The decision was upheld in court and referred to the court of appeals. However, the settlement awarded yesterday comes weeks before their case was due to be heard.

A report by Sky News saw Zurich describe the agreement as "a mutually acceptable compromise".

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