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DuPont Wins Approval for Accord That Imprelis Kills Trees

DuPont Co., the biggest U.S. chemical maker by market value, won a federal judge’s approval to settle class-action claims that its Imprelis herbicide damaged trees at tens of thousands of homes and golf courses.

The preliminary approval of the settlement was granted yesterday by U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter in Philadelphia, according to a court filing today. DuPont, based in Wilmington, Delaware, 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 reflects claims paid directly by DuPont and doesn’t include the class action, or group lawsuit, Chief Financial Officer Nicholas Fanandakis said in a Jan. 22 interview.

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.

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.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling and look forward to continuing to resolve Imprelis claims,” Michael Hanretta, a DuPont spokesman, said today in an e-mail.

The case is In re Imprelis Herbicide Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 2:11-md-02284, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

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