Federal Judge Issues Permanent Injunction Against Plywood Imported From Brazil With PFS-TECO Grade Stamp

On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida federal court, a lawsuit to stop the importation and sale of substandard structural plywood from Brazil—due to alleged false advertising, loss of revenue, and negligence related to the structural plywood failing to meet U.S standards and was therefore unsafe—ended with Federal Court Judge Roy Altman issuing a permanent injunction barring a long-time certifier from operations in Brazil.

The permanent injunction requires the revocation of all PS 1 certificates issued by PFS-TECO to over a dozen Brazilian mills producing structural plywood for the U.S. market. The decision forces wholesalers and retailers to immediately consider these products off-grade and to either obliterate the PS 1 stamp on the plywood before resale or destroy it.

Michael Haglund, of Haglund Kelley, LLP, the counsel representing the U.S. Structural Plywood Integrity Coalition, which includes nine family-owned U.S. plywood manufacturers, said the strong language in Judge Altman’s permanent injunction raises serious questions about what a plywood importer or distributor holding Brazilian plywood inventory bearing a PFS-TECO grade stamp should do with that inventory.

“At this stage, a permanent injunction has been issued against a long-time certifier of Brazilian PS 1 plywood due to the clear inadequacy of its quality assurance system in that country,” continued Haglund. “As a result, everyone currently holding this inventory is now on notice that it should be considered off-grade, which means the PS 1 grade stamp on each panel should be obliterated before resale or the panel destroyed.”

The substandard plywood is produced by more than 30 plants in southern Brazil. Companies like PFS-TECO inspect and certify Brazilian plywood to meet the PS 1 structural standard prior to import and sale in the U.S.

Building codes require that structural grade plywood panels incorporated into roofs, floors, and walls of residential and commercial buildings in the U.S. are PS 1 certified for structural integrity. Although the Brazilian plywood was stamped PS 1 by PFS-TECO, it experienced massive failure rates during testing by the American Plywood Association and other testing laboratories.

In 2021 alone, Brazilian plywood accounted for 11% of all U.S. supply with nearly 1.2 billion square feet sold. While much of that plywood went into new construction throughout the U.S., it was also used to help rebuild homes and buildings in Florida and Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria due to its cheaper price.

Haglund notes that the use of substandard materials in construction is concerning anytime, but especially when considering the possible risks to building integrity during a future hurricane and in light of Miami’s Surfside condominium collapse in 2021.

PFS-TECO initial response to the preliminary injunction stated that they stood behind the panels they have certified. A statement in regard to the permanent injunction has not yet appeared on their website.

A copy of the signed permanent injunction against PFS-TECO is available via the original source or here.

FEA compiles the Wood Markets News from various 3rd party sources to provide readers with the latest news impacting forest product markets. Opinions or views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of FEA.