U.S. Plywood Producers File Suit Over Brazilian Wood Certifications

Ten U.S. plywood producers allege false advertising claims against two certifying agencies that authorized 35 Brazilian plywood plants as meeting the structural grade requirements for plywood panels. In a lawsuit filed last week, the accrediting agency for both of the certifying agencies was also named in the suit.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, asserts that building codes adopted throughout the United States require that structural grade plywood panels incorporated into the roofs, floors and walls of residential and commercial buildings in the United States meet the PS 1-09 structural standards.

Tests by the American Plywood Association in 2018 and commissioned by the Plaintiffs in 2019 show that the Brazilian plywood panels produced in southern Brazil experience massive failure rates when tested under the PS 1-09 standard, specifically in bending stiffness and deflection tests.

The U.S. producers contend that it is impossible for PS 1-09 compliant structural grade plywood to be consistently or reliably manufactured from the extraordinarily fast-growing plantation species in southern Brazil. The companies are seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions requiring the two certifying agencies to revoke the PS 1-09 compliance certificates that each agency has issued to the 35 plywood plants operating in the Brazilian states of Parana and Santa Catarina. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks damages of $150 million dollars, plus an additional amount to be specifically proven at trial.

The name of the case is U.S. Structural Plywood Integrity Coalition, et al. v. PFS Corporation, a Wisconsin corporation, dba PFS-TECO, Timber Products Inspection, and International Accreditation Service, Inc., United District Court for the Southern District of Florida Fort Lauderdale Division (Sept. 5, 2019).

For more information about building products and construction liability, please contact David Jaffe.