Bloomberg news reports that DuPont Co. on Feb. 11 won a federal judge’s approval to settle class-action claims that its Imprellis herbicide damaged trees at tens of thousands of homes and golf courses.

Imprellis was a pre- and post-emergent herbicide that DuPont marketed and sold to turfgrass professionals. The U.S. EPA conditionally registered its active ingredient aminocyclopyrachlor in August 2010. In the summer of 2011 users began to see injury where it had been used to certain species of evergreen trees, particularly Norway spruce and white pine. The EPA issued a stop sale of Imprellis in August 2011.

U.S. District Judge Gene E. K. Pratter in Philadelphia granted the preliminary approval of the settlement Feb. 11, in which DuPont, based in Wilmington, Del., agreed to remove damaged trees and pay for replacements, maintenance and warranties, according to the judge’s order.

DuPont has set aside $750 million to compensate customers for tree damage caused by the weed killer and has said the total could reach $900 million. The accrual reportedly reflects claims paid directly by DuPont and doesn’t include the class action, or group lawsuit.
The group includes "at least tens of thousands" of members, the judge wrote in his decision. Participants in the settlement may still file claims for environmental or personal injury damages, reported Bloomberg.

Herbicide applicators would be compensated for time and expenses spent investigating Imprelis damage. Plaintiffs’ lawyers will receive as much as $7 million in fees and costs under the settlement, reported Bloomberg news.

In a related matter, an Ohio-based law firm issued a news release saying that it represents hundreds of plaintiffs in Imprelis lawsuits filed outside of the Pennsylvania class action, and is offering free advice to property owners who wish to opt out of the proposed settlement.

Richard Schulte, a partner with Wright & Schulte LLC, told the Columbus Dispatch last year that the offers DuPont had made to property owners via its previously established claims program were unsatisfactory. "None of our clients are participating in the settlements because the offers are inadequate," said Schulte.