Lawsuit saying Home Depot tricks buyers of 4X4 lumber is deep-sixed

(Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit accusing Home Depot Inc of deceiving shoppers about the size of its four-by-four lumber.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in Chicago rejected plaintiff Mikhail Abramov’s claim that the largest U.S. home improvement retailer should be held liable for selling lumber as 4 inches thick by 4 inches wide, when the dimensions were actually 3-1/2 inches by 3-1/2 inches.

While not persuaded by Atlanta-based Home Depot that the lumber’s actual size was “common knowledge,” Coleman said its labels reading “4X4-6’” would not have misled reasonable consumers.

She said the “4x4” portion lacked any unit of measurement, and Home Depot never expressly represented that its lumber actually measured 4 inches by 4 inches.

Abramov’s allegations “describe no more than a label that was potentially confusing to some consumers,” Coleman wrote.

The dismissal was without prejudice, meaning Abramov can refile his proposed class-action complaint, which sought unspecified damages. His lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes said on Monday: “We’re glad to have resolved the issue.”

In seeking a dismissal, Home Depot said a ruling for Abramov would “ignore nearly a century of standardization and disturb an entire industry’s reliance on these lumber names.”

U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang, who also sits in Chicago, in September dismissed a similar lawsuit filed by Abramov’s law firm against home improvement retailer Menards.

Chang, however, found that “no reasonable consumer would think that the labels showed the exact dimensions of the lumber.” His decision has been appealed.

The case is Abramov v Home Depot Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 17-01860.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York