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Harrison v. Skyline Corp.

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20281
Nos. No. 34706, (W. Va., 11/13/2009)

West Virginia's highest court held that the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act does not preempt homeowners' formaldehyde-based negligence claims against their home's manufacturer. The owners, who began experiencing various health problems after living in the home for six years, filed suit against the manufacturer after learning that debris from the formaldehyde-treated floor decking had been left in the duct work of their home's heating system. The manufacturer argued that their common-law negligence claim was preempted by the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act. But common law suits are not expressly preempted by the Act. Nor is the claim impliedly preempted either on the basis of field or conflict preemption. The court also held that ambient air testing for the presence of formaldehyde in wood products used in the construction of a manufactured home built in accordance with the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act is admissible as evidence in a common-law negligence action seeking to establish a standard of performance not covered by the Act or associated regulations as long as the tests are not used to challenge to the formaldehyde emission levels established under the Act.