Imprelis Lawyer Blasts DuPont over Tree-Killing Herbicide

An attorney representing plaintiffs in roughly a dozen <"">Imprelis lawsuits called DuPont’s recent recall of the tree-killing herbicide the right thing to do, but pointed out that it’s not nearly enough to make his clients and other Imprelis victims whole. He also slammed DuPont for its initial failure to take responsibility for the Imprelis debacle.

“The damage has already been done, but the recall does stop the bleeding,” <"">Jordan Chaikin, a partner in the national law firm of <"">Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, recently told BioCycle. Chaikin’s firm has filed Imprelis lawsuits on behalf of client groups in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota and plans to file additional actions in Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas and South Dakota.

Chaikin, who told BioCycle the epicenter of the Imprelis catastrophe seemed to be the state of Ohio, said his clients have lost more than just trees to Imprelis.

“We have one Ohio homeowner who planted a tree 50 years ago when her daughter was born. It sits in middle of her property and is dying because of Imprelis,” he said.

Imprelis, which DuPont began selling to licensed landscapers last October after it was conditionally approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was supposed to be an environmentally safe solution for controlling broadleaf weeds. But as we’ve reported previously, property owners and landscapers began to complain around Memorial Day of dead and damaged trees – mostly evergreens such as Norway spruce and white pines – in areas where Imprelis had been sprayed. Reported symptoms included twisting and curling, possibly followed by browning of needles, shoots and branch tips.

After conducting its own investigation, DuPont announced on August 4 that it would voluntarily suspend sales of Imprelis. The company also said it was working on establishing an Imprelis refund and return program for its customers. Last Thursday, the EPA officially issued DuPont a Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order (SSURO) 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.

In his interview with BioCycle, Chaikin took issue with the DuPont’s characterization of the Imprelis recall as “voluntary,” pointing out that the EPA had already threatened a stop-sale order in a <"">letter it sent to the company on August 3. He also chided DuPont for trying to deflect blame for the Imprelis catastrophe earlier this summer.

“They tried to shift the blame and said ‘It’s not us.’ The landscapers didn’t follow directions or they mixed it with other herbicides, or they tried to blame it on the weather,” Chaikin said. “That’s nonsense. Manufacturers are always shifting blame and looking to point a finger.”

At least 18 Imprelis lawsuits, including several filed by Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, are pending in federal courts in Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation announced earlier this week that it will convene a hearing on September 27 to consider consolidation of Imprelis lawsuits in a single federal court.

In an earlier interview with The New York Times, Chaikin said DuPont could face more than a billion dollars in damages as a result of the Imprelis litigation.

“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,” he told the Times.

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