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D-day nears for toxic sofa compensation
A lawyer representing dozens of victims of so-called toxic sofa syndrome believes a decision could soon be made on whether claims against the collapsed Land of Leather chain will be settled.
Earlier this year, consumer groups moved to allay fears that the collapse of the firm - which had stores across the UK - would jeopardise their claims for compensation. But in March, Land of Leather's insurers told the High Court that more time was needed to examine documents before a decision could be taken on whether any payouts would be made.
With further legal discussions expected imminently, John Hutchings, a lawyer specialising in defective product cases with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said he believes this could be the beginning of the end of the battle for compensation.
"This toxic sofa issue first came to light over two years ago," said John, who is representing more than 30 victims. "Since then, there have been thousands of people come forward with symptoms. Some of the burns and skin conditions I have seen have been absolutely horrific. I think it's now high time that these people should be compensated for their injuries."
More than 5,000 people are believed to be claiming damages for exposure to chemical irritant Dimethyl Fumarate (DMF), which was released from sachets of anti-mould fungicide in a range of Chinese-manufactured furniture sold by retailers including Land of Leather, Walmsleys and Argos. The 'Linkwise' furniture was subsequently withdrawn from sale, but not before it had left the retailers facing a multi-million pound Group Litigation Order lawsuit (GLO).
"While we continue to sign our clients up to the GLO, we are hopeful that this latest round of negotiations will help resolve the situation," said John.
"We feel that people have already had to wait long enough, and our aim is to ensure that people begin receiving compensation for their injuries as soon as possible."
John's clients include one Land of Leather customer who suffered a painful rash and breathing difficulties after coming into contact with DMF. Many others developed blisters, spots and weeping sores after exposure to the chemical, sachets of which were stapled inside the furniture.
"It is thought that as many as 200,000 affected sofas could have been sold before they were withdrawn from sale," said John. "There could still be literally thousands of people suffering from skin irritations or respiratory problems as result of their sofas, who may not have realised the cause.
"The Court will soon impose a time limit for making claims for DMF exposure," he said, "but until that date is announced, my advice to anyone who thinks they may be affected is to come forward and make themselves known."
How can Fentons help?
For advice on submitting a claim for compensation as part of the Group Litigation Order, please contact John Hutchings at Fentons Solicitors LLP on 0161 684 6635.
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