DuPont Settlement Offers For Tree Damage, Deaths Expected This Month

More than 30,000 homeowners, golf courses, landscapers, municipalities and other property owners have submitted claims for compensation as a result of tree damage and death from DuPont’s Imprelis lawn herbicide, and the company now indicates that it intends to have the first settlement offers out to many of the claimants by the end of this month.

According to a report in the New York Times, the company is continuing to accept new claims, despite a submission deadline of February 1, and indicates that the DuPont settlement process may be completed by the fall.

The claims involve problems with DuPont Imprelis herbicide, which was approved for sale in October 2010, but it was discovered less than a year later that it was doing more than just killing weeds, causing thousands of mature trees to die or suffer severe damage.

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While DuPont promoted Imprellis to target broadleaf weeds, such as dandelion, clover, plantains, wild violet and ground ivy, the company issued a warning to consumers in June 2011 that they should not use Imprellis near Norway spruce or white pines.

In August 2011, the EPA ordered a halt of sales and distribution for DuPont Imprellis, indicating that the herbicide violated federal regulations by failing to warn on the label about the risk to non-target species.

The first DuPont Imprelis class action lawsuit was filed in July 2011, on behalf of several Michigan-area country clubs and property owners.

Dozens of additional Imprellis lawsuits were filed in the subsequent months, and the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order in October 2011, centralizing more than 40 complaints filed in 17 U.S. District Courts as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which has been coordinated before U.S. District Judge Gene E. K. Pratter, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

According to the proposed DuPont settlement program, compensation for damage to trees that are still living is estimated to result in a payment of around $500, which would go toward restorative treatment.

DuPont officials report $225 million has been set aside for claims that people have already submitted. Expectations are that figure could eventually reach $575 million.

One claimant, the Baker National Golf Course in Minnesota, has already received an offer of $382,000 for its dead trees, The New York Times reports.

As a condition of Imprelis settlement, claimants must wait for an inspection of large dead brown trees in their yard, sometime 30, 40 or 50 feet tall, before removing them.

According to a DuPont website established in response to the Imprelis problems, once the inspection is complete, the company will send a letter confirming they have received the claim. Should additional information be needed, the lawn care professional involved in the process will be contacted. Otherwise a “Claims Resolution Agreement” will be sent, detailing compensation and services available. Once the agreement is signed and returned, compensation is then awarded along with information about other services provided. Information for those who feel they were not compensated fairly is also outlined in the agreement.

Photo courtesy of starmist1 via CC2.0

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