AUSTIN (KXAN) – A new class action lawsuit filed against a mattress company is pushing for changes across the industry.
Attorney Lloyd Cueto, with Cueto Law from near St. Louis and lawyers with the Environmental Litigation Group from Birmingham refiled an amended version of the lawsuit in April against mattress manufacturer Zinus.
The mattresses are sold online and at big box retail stores.
“It really is dangerous, not only the property damage to people, but the health issues,” Cueto explained. “We have over 200 plaintiffs in all 50 states and people are realizing they’re not alone on this.”
He explained that families have had trouble breathing, skin irritation and were forced to toss belongings after removing the cover to wash it.
Cases across Texas
Cueto said close to 30 of cases included in the lawsuit are from across Texas.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) explained to KXAN investigator Arezow Doost that fiberglass is used in a variety of products generally for adding strength and fire-resistance.
Cueto said the problem is that Zinus has a removable outer cover with a zipper.
“The very existence of a zipper invites the owner to unzip it, or certainly makes you think that it’s safe to do so,” explained Cueto. “And there’s not nearly appropriate enough warning about the exposure to the glass fibers once you open it.”
‘Leave the cover on’
A statement from Zinus explained the company provides quality products and takes all customer feedback very seriously.
“The material that we use to comply with fire safety regulations is standard in the mattress industry, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission has found that this material is not considered hazardous,” continued the statement.
A spokesperson did not respond to questions about whether the company would remove the zipper or stop using fiberglass.
“All Zinus product owners should refer to the FAQ page on our company website, which addresses many common questions, including proper care and handling of mattress covers,” said the statement.
The frequently asked questions page explained, “The mattress cover isn’t washable, and removing it could inhibit the fire safety barrier, so please always leave the cover on.”
Industry wide problem
“They need to pull these mattresses as they exist off the market now. And we don’t believe that they should have to wait until they’re forced by some kind of federal recall,” explained Cueto.
He said the lawsuit will also mean compensation for the families impacted. Cueto explained that on average the families have spent $15,000 to remove all the fiberglass.
He said that this is an industry wide problem and he’s now looking at other manufacturers.
Michelle Cantrell spent thousands of dollars removing all the fiberglass in her home.
“It was literally like dust settles everywhere, it was exactly like that, only it was glass,” explained Cantrell.
The family from Round Rock shared a warning about their daughter’s memory foam mattress right before the pandemic last year.
They said they bought their mattress from a different company online which ended up reimbursing them, but they explained their home was covered with what looked like glitter.
After some research, Cantrell said it turned out to be fiberglass. They had unzipped the cover to wash it and noticed a tear. Several days later she said they were feeling itchy and coughing.
“There was no warning label anywhere near the zipper or the cover or anything,” explained Cantrell.
What’s being done federally?
Doost asked CPSC why there hasn’t been a recall. A spokesperson with the agency responded with the exact same statement as last year.
“CPSC has mandatory requirements for mattresses and mattress pads. The regulations are performance standards, not design standards. So they do not specify the use of specific materials or individual components,” said Nychelle Fleming, Public Affairs Specialist with the agency.
She added: “It is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing and drying of any textile product, including mattress pads. Many textile products shed fibers through normal wear and refurbishment. It would be difficult to determine the type of fiber without scientific analysis.”
Fleming said concerns should be reported to www.SaferProducts.gov, but it’s unclear what those reports do since hundreds have already been made online. She said, however, that the company looks at all complaints made online.