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DuPont hasn’t paid over herbicide, homeowners, lawn pros say –

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Remember that little Imprelis issue?

DuPont hasn’t paid over herbicide, homeowners, lawn pros say

DETROIT – More than a year after the herbicide Imprelis killed or damaged hundreds of evergreen trees nationwide, property owners who submitted claims to DuPont for replacements are asking: Where’s the money?

Other property owners who submitted their claims in the fall are still waiting to hear from the company.

DuPont (DD) was to mail them claim resolution agreements detailing how much the Wilmington, Del.-based chemical giant will pay for the tree damage.

Those who accepted agreements say they are still waiting for a check from DuPont. Some have been waiting since March as they continue to look at dead trees.

Some property owners are seeking second opinions on costs because of concern about whether the offers are fair.

Lawn-care professionals say their customers are eager to have the dead trees off their properties. They have questions and complain that DuPont has not told them anything for several months.

Last summer, after the Free Press broke the story about the problem, DuPont voluntarily stopped selling Imprelis, acknowledging that the herbicide caused certain species of trees, including white pine, to curl and brown and in many cases, die.

Before the chemical was pulled, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had ordered DuPont to turn over thousands of reports from numerous states about tree damage and all tests related to the effect of Imprelis on trees, the agency said.

In August, the EPA banned Imprelis.

Dozens of lawsuits were filed seeking class-action status.

Mark Underwood of the Adrian, Mich.-based Underwood Nursery, the largest nursery in southeast Michigan, said his customers haven’t gotten any offers.

“No claims resolutions yet,” Underwood said. “We have 10,000 trees in inventory ready to go.”

Evergreens up to 20 feet tall and nonevergreens up to 35 feet tall were affected, he said. Most of the replacement trees in stock are 10 to 14 feet.

Underwood used Imprelis — whose active ingredient is aminocyclopyrachlor — on his customers’ lawns after it was approved in August 2010. Months later, complaints surfaced across the country that trees such as white pines and Norway spruces were dying.

Symptoms of Imprelis damage include twisting of leaf stalks along with curling or cupping of leaves and yellowing or browning of foliage.

Underwood said he heard last year that DuPont was going to have offers for his customers by June.

“We’re optimistic that they’ll get fair compensation,” he said, but when is the question.

Angus Sutherland, 78, of Lodi Township, Mich., a retired school principal and one of Underwood’s customers, said, “It’s out of our hands. We have to wait for them.”

DuPont spokeswoman Kate Childress said in an e-mail Thursday, “We’re working as quickly as possible to process claims.”

“Since this is a property-specific evaluation, it is a complex process and it takes time to do it fairly and accurately,” she said. “DuPont has more than 200 people working on the claims of property owners.”

Jerry Richart of Troy, Mich., 65, a photographer, said he received a $3,000 offer from DuPont to treat his 12 trees.

Instead of removing them, the company wants to see if the trees can recover. If the trees don’t recover by Dec. 31, 2013, then DuPont will pay what is “reasonable” to remove and replace them, Richart said, quoting the offer.

“I don’t know whether it’s too much or not enough,” Richart said.

On Friday, he had an arborist come to his home to do a damage and cost assessment. A second arborist will do an estimate Monday.

Tim Drummond, owner of Arborscape Lawn & Tree Care in Dorr outside Grand Rapids, Mich., said his residential customers were the first in the country to receive offers from DuPont.

“Monetarily, the offers are pretty good,” he said. “My clients are happy with the offers.”

One customer was offered $47,000, including $19,000 each for two 100-foot trees.

Drummond has more than 200 lawn-care customers, and about 92 filed claims with DuPont. Despite mailing in offer acceptances in March, his customers tell him they have yet to receive any money.

“I’ve been on the phone with DuPont every day trying to resolve this for my customers,” Drummond said. “There’s no talking to them. It’s like writing a letter to Santa Claus.”


Written by vaphc

May 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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