California Judge Paul M. Haakenson, has fined big-box retailer Lowe's $1.5 million for selling 2X4s labeled as "2X"4 when the actual dimensions measured 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches.

According to the judgement, the retailer was ordered to pay $1.47 million in civil penalties and costs of the investigation, and an additional $150,000 to fund further consumer protection-related activities. Additionally, Lowe's will display actual dimensions next to "commonly used measurements" in product descriptions in nearly 100 stores across California.

The decision appears to be an effort to protect general consumers, but those in the construction trades know this is a common practice, and an article in Remodeling magazine (a sister publication to Masonry Construction) generated these interesting comments.

My dad explained to me when I was about five years old that 2x4s do not measure two inches by four inches. He told me that the term "2x4" referred to the approximate dimensions of the lumber prior to planing, and was used simply because it is easier to say. This made sense to me when I was five years old. It seems unlikely that these intelligent and highly educated attorneys and judges were surprised to discover that the nominal term "2x4" is not intended to be a precise description of the product. I doubt that anyone in Marin County, California ever purchased dimensional lumber and had to return it to Lowe's because the 2x4s were not wide enough or thick enough for their project. Monday morning, I will order a load of 2x4s. I am afraid that I will have to send them back if they actually measure two inches by four inches, as I will not be able to use them.

Lowe's will necessarily pass the cost of this frivolous lawsuit along to their customers. Lowe's is the place that I regularly shop for home improvement products. Each Lowe's purchase will now include a surcharge to offset a portion of this expense. I don't know who the $1.6 million will go to, but we all know who really pays for this kind of thing. This is not a case of "consumer protection" but an example of the sort of abuse from which consumers should be protected.  – Ron Farmer

If you don't know the actual size of a 2x4 you've got no business working with them!  – Austin Eggler

Especially when misinformation could adversely affect building projects that more often than not rely on precise measurements."

If someone has a building project that relies on precision, then they should be hiring it out to a professional that understands the industry... What won't people sue for now-a-days...?  – Tyson London

Read the full article with additional comments here and share your thoughts below.