A federal magistrate judge in Florida declined to issue an order seeking to restrain Forestwood Industries Inc. from certifying Brazilian plywood. A motion was filed by a group of nine U.S.-based plywood producers, assembled as U.S. Structural Plywood Integrity Coalition, seeking the order. Forestwood is a New York-based corporation that provides certification services for applicable standards. According to court documents, in an underlying case, the coalition’s nine members are seeking to prevent Forestwood from certifying Brazilian plywood, for which there is currently a pending motion from the plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction. However, the matter before the court on January 5 concerned “a more immediate issue,” said judge Patrick M. Hunt.

The filing notes that the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation, listed as a defendant in the case alongside Forestwood, is the accrediting agency for the New York-based corporation. According to court documents, the association notified Forestwood in early January 2023 that its certification had lapsed “due to certain shortcomings.”

“Although there remains an opportunity to cure the shortcomings, as of January 1, 2023, Forestwood is unable to certify Brazilian plywood,” the judge wrote. “After learning of this development, plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order requiring Forestwood to immediately cease all such certification.”

Court precedent notes that a temporary restraining order is an “extraordinary remedy” that requires the meeting of a number of criteria. Specifically, plaintiffs must show that there is a likelihood of success on merits, that irreparable injury would result absent the order, that the injury outweighs the harm inflicted on the non-movant and that the relief would serve the public interest.

However, the judge wrote that the plaintiffs showed “nothing more than mere speculation” with respect to the claim that Forestwood had not taken steps to stop its certifications of Brazilian plywood. Furthermore, the judge said that the plaintiffs provided no evidence that the wood is still being stamped or that wood stamped after the first of the year hasn’t been segregated per Forestwood’s direction.

“To the contrary, Forestwood has provided this court with ample evidence that they are in compliance with all requirements,” the judge wrote. “Such evidence demonstrates that Forestwood did indeed take appropriate steps to ensure that no plywood stamped after the lapse in certification would enter circulation.”

With Forestwood immediately taking down its website and notifying mills of the lapse in accreditation, the judge said that the irreparable harm criteria for the order had not been met. The judge then denied the motion for a temporary restraining order but reminded the plaintiffs of another potential avenue for relief.

“At the hearing, Forestwood repeatedly offered to enter into a binding agreement, enforceable by this court, to alleviate any concerns plaintiffs might have,” the judge wrote. “Plaintiffs were uninterested in such an agreement at the time, but the court renews its suggestion that, should plaintiffs continue to need such assurances, they reconsider their position.”

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