New Imprelis Claims Process Requires Claimants to Surrender Legal Rights

DuPont claims it is going make good on promises to reimburse homeowners for trees lost to its I<"">mprelis herbicide. According to a report in The New York Times, the company has set up a process by which property owners can make monetary claims for their Imprelis-damaged trees. But there’s a big catch for anyone who want to take advantage of DuPont’s new Imprelis claims process – they must waive their rights to sue.

Imprelis was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August, 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 herbicide, which was only approved by the EPA last October, was supposed be an environmentally safe solution for controlling broadleaf weeds.

Many property owners across the country have already filed lawsuits against DuPont seeking compensation for their lost trees. Jordan Chaikin, a partner with the national law firm of Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, recently told The New York Times that DuPont could be facing more than a billion dollars in liability over Imprelis tree damage. According to Chaikin, homeowners could be out $20,000 or $25,000 per tree if they seek to replace the evergreens Imprelis killed.

According to the latest report from The New York Times, DuPont has set up a program for paying homeowners and lawn care professionals for the removal of dead and dying evergreen trees and for replacements. The company also says it will pay for tree care once new trees are planted, and provide a warranty for the new trees, and for future impacts.

Right now, the program is only available to property owners who sustained damage to evergreen trees. While there have been some reports of damaged deciduous trees following Imprelis application, a DuPont spokesperson told the Times that “they are resilient and may come back in the spring.”

According to the EPA, DuPont had submitted more than 7,000 adverse incident reports involving Imprelis as of last month. The company is not saying how much compensating property owners for Imprelis-damaged trees might set it back.

What happens to Imprelis already in the soil and appears to be a question that is open for debate. According to the Times, DuPont says that soil treated with Imprelis prior to June 1 will be safe for planting new trees after October 1, but others aren’t so sure. Dan Sullivan, managing editor of BioCycle Magazine, told the Times that Imprelis could have a half life as long as 200 days.

“This stuff is persistent, that’s one of the things they tout,” he said. “They say you can plant after 120 days — I have to question that.”

According to the Associated Press, DuPont faces 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.

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