Bonded leather is back in the courts. Seffner, Fla.-based furniture company Rooms To Go faces a lawsuit seeking class action status in Tampa Bay following customer complaints that their bonded leather furniture didn't live up to the company's promises of durability and quality.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Brandon resident Robert Blobner, 63. According to the suit, he bought a couch and chaise from Rooms To Go for $1,193 back in 2013. But just a week later, the material began to peel and flake. And when the company sent a replacement after he complained, the same thing happened.
He later found that the furniture, the lawsuit says, was upholstered with bonded leather, a mix of leather and synthetic fibers. He is hoping to recoup damages for himself and any Rooms customers who bought bonded leather furniture within the last five years.
"We filed this case as a class action in order to level the playing field and so that thousands of consumers will have a voice," Christopher S. Polaszek, one of Blobner's lawyers, said in an email.
Bonded leather was the subject of a 2015 case involving Kane's Furniture Corp., a Pinellas Park furniture chain. Customers brought a class-action suit against Kane's following widespread "peeling and flaking" of bonded leather furniture they purchased, which ended up being only a small percent genuine leather. The lawsuit alleged Kane's did not honor a lifetime warranty on such furniture.
Kane's settled the lawsuit in February, blaming its manufacturer in Mississippi for the defective furniture. Customers who complained about such issues were eligible for either a full refund if they complained within a year of purchase or 50 percent if they complained before two years after purchase. Kane's also agreed to pay as much as $2.5 million to refund some portion of bonded leather purchases made by customers who did not complain.
A Rooms To Go spokesperson was not available for comment by end of day Tuesday.
Just a day before the most recent lawsuit against Rooms To Go, another lawsuit was filed against the furniture retailer by one of the company's independent contractor drivers. The lawsuit, which also seeks class action status, alleges that Rooms To Go charged its drivers too much for insurance and did not pay them enough for some kinds of deliveries.
Rooms To Go operates in 10 states and has seven locations in Tampa Bay.