Been burned by a toxic sofa from Land of Leather? Tough.

19 March 2010

land of leatherMore than 300 people bought sofas from Land of Leather. Now, you imagine that everything that followed would be mainly sitting down based anecdotes. However, these poor sods had bought 'toxic' couches and ended up with rashes and burns.

Not what you'd expect from a piece of furniture, eh?

So in come the compensation cheques? Fat chance. Apparently, not one of them will get a penny for their bother a high court judge ruled yesterday.

The sofas were manufactured by a company called Linkwise using the chemical dimethyl fumerate, which is used as an anti-mould agent. However, it caused all manner of skin complaints and in one particularly unfortunate case, one woman had her dog killed at the vets because she thought it was the reason her skin had gone weird.


The chemical has since been banned after people all over Europe suffered skin burns and breathing problems, according to Russell Jones and Walker, the solicitors which represented the claimants.

Alas, Land of Leather went bust last year, so its customers took the company's insurer, Zurich, to the high court to sue for up to £3m in compensation.

But Mr Justice Teare told them to get bent.

Richard Langton, senior litigation partner at Russell Jones and Walker, who described the ruling as a "devasting blow", said a clause in Land of Leather's insurance policy had allowed Zurich to avoid paying compensation.

"The contract contains one condition which, if breached, rendered the insurance policy void. This condition was that Land of Leather should not settle claims without permission from the insurer," he said. "When Land of Leather realised Linkwise sofas were damaging its reputation, it sought compensation from Linkwise, and the company agreed to pay Land of Leather $900,000. Zurich was consulted on and agreed to this.

"But Linkwise then failed to pay up, so Land of Leather went back for more discussions. They slightly changed the terms of the agreement and Linkewise paid the $900,000, but this time Zurich was not consulted, which the insurer said rendered the insurance null and void."

A spokesperson for Zurich said the high court ruling confirmed that Land of Leather had breached "fundamental terms" of its insurance policy, which meant it did not provide an indemnity for customers injured by the Linkwise sofas. They added: "Zurich remains committed, wherever possible, to the prompt resolution of personal injury claims unaffected by today's ruling. As the group litigation in relation to such claims is ongoing, it is not appropriate to make further comment at this time."


TOPICS:   Consumer Advice


  • goon
    the stupid horrible slag killed her dog becase she thought it affected her skin ! scum like that should be killed with any luck she will die from the sofa chemicals
  • goon
    also mental note not to use zurich insurance
  • MrRobin
    What's that, you say? An insurance company has wriggled itself out of paying up by quoting the small print on a policy and voided the policy on the slightest inconsistency? Unprecedented! NOT
  • Rob
    There'll be some cheap leather sofas on ebay in no time.
  • DrTrouserPlank
    Zurich are utterly useless. They underwrite a lot of insurance policies and their insurance isn't worth a penny, it's like being uninsured but with a premium to pay each month.
  • Fella-Tio
    what a bitch killing her dog...I'd happily put her down
  • Chris T.
    Insurance company turns out to be bunch of greased weasels. You learn something new every day. Insurance companies - they're all like Jeremy Beadle.
  • Junkyard
    The insurance policy has been rendered invalid, you say? That's a great shame for Land of Leather. They'll have to cough up compensation for their customers out of their own pockets now. That's how it works, isn't it? Just because Land of Leather did something really stupid to invalidate their policy, that surely doesn't absolve them of any responsibility to their customers? That would be an entirely laughable concept!
  • phil l.
    Oi! Junkyard, Land of Leather went tits up last year.
  • raptorcigs
    wonder how much zurich paid the judge
  • Idon'twantthatThankYou!
    Posted by raptorcigs: "wonder how much zurich paid the judge?" Raptorcigs! How dare you question our lily white judiciary! Zurich Insurance consistently manages to wangle its way out of paying out to victims, regardless of bribes to judges, thank you very much!
  • Junkyard
    Oi! Phil. So?
  • agatha
    May the woman who killed her dog over her skin be assailed with (more) boils and locusts... she doesn't deserve a cent.
  • anne s.
    My husband was one of the people who suffered from the effects of the toxic sofas. It was hell. He had months off work and at one point he was so ill that he was sure he was going to die, which may sound dramatic but that was how bad he felt. We had a special holiday of a life time booked for our 25th wedding anniversary during the time he was ill which was totally ruined. For Zurich to be able to get out on a technicality is utterly sickening. Land of Leather went bust so no come back there. An interesting fact according to "trading talk" the founders of collapsed retail chain Land of Leather, Paul Briant, Steve Dowdall and Peter Ling, launched a new furniture chain called World of Sofas.
  • wendy
    The courts have now agreed that payouts totaling £20 million for the people who suffered but the people who gat their linkwise sofa from Land of Leather will not be getting a penny. Well done to the people who will get paid but spare a thought to the 350 people who suffered hell and will not get a anything!
  • helen
    anne smith. why dont you sue these people personally if you cant get compensation. this trading talk blog says they just changed the names of the toxic sofas from linkwise to soffine and continued to sell them although knew they were dangerous. thats criminal law. and if they broke the zurich terms then is theire resposibility.
  • Roy E.
    Da mein Sofa schon ein bisschen auseinander fällt und überall Kratzer hat, würde ich mir gerne ein neues Sofa kaufen. Da meine Katze auch ganz gern mal Sofa missbraucht, sollte es aus einem guten Stoff sein, denn Leder fällt ja schon mal weg. Hat hier jemand aus dem Forum auch Haustiere und kann mir bei der Auswahl des Stoffes einen Tipp geben?
    I wonder how many people realise that leather isn't just from a cow. Many animals from sheep, goat and pig have their skins turned into leather bags and other clothing too! We adour leather bags.
  • Compensation B.
    [...] harmless sofa, yesterdayRemember us telling you about people buying sofas and getting rashes and burned because they were all toxic and that? Well, [...]

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