- Grove City, Pennsylvania

February 6, 2013

Golf club's suit goes to fed court

By Joe Pinchot/Herald Staff Writer
Allied News

PINE — Chemical giant DuPont has transferred a lawsuit alleging an herbicide the company produced killed trees at Grove City Country Club to federal court.

The Pine Township club sued E.I. duPont de Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del., on Dec. 24 in Mercer County Common Pleas Court alleging breach of contract, negligence and unfair trade protection.

It said the weed killer Imprelis killed or damaged 75 evergreen trees and will result in a costly removal and cleanup process.

In its notice of removal filed Friday, DuPont said the suit is virtually identical to others filed nationwide over the use if Imprelis, which is no longer sold. Imprelis had been touted as an environmentally friendly herbicide for killing broadleaf weeds, woody species, vines and grasses on non-food use sites including trails, wildlife management areas and golf courses.

It turned out to not be so friendly to trees, particularly Norway spruce and white pine.

Removal to the U.S. District Court, Pittsburgh, is proper because the club could have filed it there initially - the parties are from different states - and the amount of money at issue exceeds $75,000, DuPont said.

The club said it can prove the value of the trees - some of which towered more than 80 feet tall - was $426,190.

The club also said it will incur costs of more than $100,000 to remove trees and contaminated soil, discard them - Imprelis-treated trees and grass clippings cannot be composted or mulched - and line the holes with charcoal to help prevent the spread of the chemical.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, DuPont received "thousands of reports of adverse incidents involving damage or death of trees associated with the use of Imprelis."

EPA banned Imprelis in August 2011 and DuPont issued a recall of the product and set up a claims process for people who used it and believed they suffered losses as a result.

DuPont said Imprelis "poses minimal risks to people or pets."

The Pine Township country club said it bought Imprelis in the winter of 2010-11 and applied it on various areas of the golf course in 2011. Seventy-five evergreen trees were killed or damaged as a result, the suit said.

DuPont investigated the damage and said it would take responsibility for the damage to trees, the club said.

The club is seeking restitution for those costs.

Published Jan. 23, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.