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EPA Orders Imprelis Ban

Aug 11, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

There is more bad news today for DuPont on the Imprelis front.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formally banned sales of the allegedly tree-killing herbicide, issuing DuPont a Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order (SSURO) yesterday.

The SSURO was issued after data provided by DuPont confirmed that  certain coniferous trees, including  Norway spruce, white pine and balsam fir, were susceptible to being damaged or killed by the application of Imprelis, the EPA said in a statement on its website.  The order was issued under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which requires the registration of pesticide products and pesticide-production facilities, and the proper labeling of pesticides.

The EPA said it is investigating whether Imprelis tree death and damage is the result of product misuse, inadequate warnings and use directions on the product’s label, persistence in soil and plant material, uptake of the product through the root systems and absorbed into the plant tissue, environmental factors, potential runoff issues or other possible causes. It's not known if Imprelis will be allowed to return to market once the EPA finishes its review.

DuPont brought Imprelis to market last fall, touting it as an "innovative solution to control a wide spectrum of broadleaf weeds,” including dandelion, clover and wild violet.  But shortly after Memorial Day, landscapers and property owners throughout the country began complaining that trees on their lawns were damaged or had died following Imprelis applications.  By June, both DuPont and the EPA were investigating the problem. 

On August 4, DuPont voluntarily halted the sale of Imprelis and announced it would soon establish return and refund program for its customers.

In the past several weeks, scores of property owners have filed lawsuits to obtain compensation for the trees they allegedly lost to Imprelis.  The national law firm of Parker Waichman LLP, LLP has filed a dozen Imprelis lawsuits against DuPont in federal courts across the Midwest, and more are pending.

“We expect at the end of the day there’s going to be more than a billion dollars of damage or as much as several billion,” Jordan Chaikin, a partner in the firm, told The New York Times. “You are talking about a lot of people who have dead trees 40 to 50 feet tall, 30 or 50 years old that each cost $20,000 or $25,000 to replace.”

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