Imprelis Claims Pile Up for DuPontJun 27, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP
DuPont has already paid hundreds of millions of dollars settling damage claims related to its failed herbicide Imprelis.
According to a New York Times report this week, the Delaware-based chemicals giant said some claims are still “trickling” in despite a Feb. 2 deadline to file them. Imprelis, which was introduced only in late 2010 but recalled from the market less than a year later, is being blamed for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of trees, mostly in the Northeast, Mid Atlantic, and upper Midwest regions. Everyone from landscape architects, golf course managers, and public parks operators believe spreading Imprelis to prevent the spread of nuisance ground-level weeds and plants impacted the health of large and older conifer trees, causing them to lose leaves or needles and them to eventually die.
DuPont said it expects to make offers to all those impacted by the defective Imprelis herbicide by the fall, half that total by the end of July. If hundreds of millions have already been paid, it’s likely that much more still remains to be given to those who have their claims accepted. The company has set aside $225 million for the claims already processed and expect to eventually pay a total close to $575 million in Imprelis damages. This will not include claims filed as part of class-action lawsuits filed in two courts.
The Times reports that DuPont is offering about $500 per tree that’s been damaged but is not dead. The money is to be used for restorative treatments to bring those plants back to life. For trees and plants that have died, an official must inspect it before an award can be given. Citing an attorney representing someone who’s seeking Imprelis damages, The Times indicates that more than $2,000 for a 20-foot conifer tree and more than $7,000 for a tree twice as tall.
Some seeking claims dispute the expedited nature to DuPont’s assertion that most or all will be handled before winter.
Imprelis was to be a revolutionary herbicide. It was super-concentrated so it was easier to ship and was touted as being more environmentally-friendly. It was purchased in vast quantities across those regions of the country and spread to prevent sprawling plants like creeping charlie and other shallow-rooted plants from spoiling the look of manicured lawns. Soon after it was applied, plants and trees like Norway spruces and eastern white pines, conifers, willows, poplars, and Deodora Cedar were beginning to show signs of poor health, yellowing or losing buds. Eventually, the trees and plants died and needed to be removed and replaced. Many of these species are not specifically native to their area and all feature shallow roots. It is believed DuPont did not conduct proper pre-market testing on these species before releasing Imprelis on the market and after months of speculation as to what could have led to the failures of it, the company admitted that Imprelis was ultimately responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of trees.
In some instances, the toxic effects of Imprelis were enough to fell long-standing, 60-year old trees and replacing such an item in a lawn or park can cost tens of thousands of dollars, alone. Class-action lawsuits were filed in Michigan and Ohio to handle the heavy caseload of claims related to Imprelis damages.
Like the dearth of information prior to the release of Imprelis, there is just as little information on the potential lingering effects of Imprelis, such as its ability to remain in soils where potential replacement trees and plants will be placed. Also unknown is if more plant and tree deaths were the result of this herbicide. One Ohio landscaper told The Times that Imprelis’ toxic effects have spread in lawns they manage since making initial claims more than a year ago on several dead trees.