DuPont starts Imprelis claims process

AP News
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Posted: Sep 07, 2011 8:33 PM
DuPont starts Imprelis claims process

Facing a rash of lawsuits over damage to trees by its weedkiller Imprelis, DuPont Co. is sending emails to lawn care professionals and golf course superintendents outlining details of a claims resolution process.

As part of its claims resolution program, DuPont is offering to compensate landscapers for the removal and replacement of trees destroyed by Imprelis, with a two-year warranty on all replacement trees. The company also is offering to pay for efforts to save other trees affected by Imprelis and to pay to replace those that do not recover satisfactorily by June 2012.

Property owners with validated damage claims related to Imprelis would be eligible for additional direct payments, but only if they waive their rights to sue.

A DuPont spokeswoman Kate Childress said the company has not determined final costs of the claims process.

Imprelis was registered in October and marketed to professionals treating residential and commercial lawns, golf courses and sod farms. But shortly after it hit the market, complaints surfaced about damage to trees, particularly evergreens such as Norway spruce and white pine.

The Environmental Protection Agency ordered DuPont last month to halt sales of Imprelis, one week after the company told distributors it was voluntarily suspending sales and working on a return and refund program.

The EPA has said it believes the weedkiller may have been misbranded because label directions and warnings were inadequate to protect non-target plant species.

The emails outlining the claims resolution process were sent Tuesday, the same day DuPont filed papers in federal court in Delaware in a consolidated case involving six Imprelis lawsuits filed against the Wilmington, Del., chemical company.

The Delaware case is only one of roughly 40 putative Imprelis lawsuits seeking class-action status in more than a dozen states. A federal panel meeting Sept. 27 in Philadelphia will consider whether to centralize those lawsuits in a single district.

According to the EPA, DuPont had submitted more than 7,000 adverse incident reports involving Imprelis as of last month. The company said in Tuesday's court filing that the number of reports has been "relatively limited" and involves less than 10 percent of the properties on which Imprelis was applied.

DuPont shares were up $1.31, or 2.8 percent, to $47.44 in afternoon trading Wednesday.