In 2013 a class action suit was filed in California courts alleging that Tempurpedic’s memory foam mattresses contain harmful VOCs. The lead plaintiff in the case, Michael Dodson, claims that Tempurpedic mattresses and pillows release volatile organic compounds which can result in allergic reactions as well as possible long-term complications, and that the company is aware of issues. They believe the company has minimized the problem when advertising their products by stating that the odors will dissipate and that products are VOC-free, when formaldehyde and other odors may continue to be released for months.
The class lawsuit brought against Tempur-pedic is represented by attorney Allen Stewart of Dallas, Texas, and seeks many forms of recourse including an injunction, constructive trust, and restitution. It claims that Tempurpedic violated business laws within the State of California, where the suit was filed.
One of the primary reasons for the suit states that Tempurpedic not only downplayed VOCs in their memory foam mattresses and pillows but also refers to the fact that they failed to warn customers of a potential link between reactions and allergies with previous customers and their products.
Another key issue brought by the plaintiff is that Tempurpedic and their distributor network informs customers that the odors emitted from their memory foam should only last a few days and is harmless. The class action suit claims that the company has been aware of problems reported by some consumers like allergic reactions attributed to the odors or side effects like headaches since at least 2007, and has failed to notify consumers of these potential problems.
Their other claim is that Tempurpedic’s mattresses emit formaldehyde, a strong VOC and known carcinogen, even though they claim their products are ‘allergen-resistant’ (though this claim likely refers to dust mites rather than chemical sensitivities). The claim on the attorney’s website states that formaldehyde has been identified in laboratory testing of Tempurpedic products.
Tempurpedic has not officially released a public response yet, but the lawsuit (or perhaps recent FTC actions) already appears to have had some effect on marketing, as the company’s website removed a page in the last few months which had the claims mentioned in the lawsuit (“free of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as formaldehyde and CFC (chlorofluorocarbon)—harsh chemicals that can trigger allergies and asthma.”), and now makes no official mention of the issue. They had also removed all reviews from their website for several months (since July 2013), though many appear to have been restored.
The suit is still active.