The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pratter, J.
THIS DOCUMENT APPLIES TO: ALL ACTIONS
This multidistrict litigation concerns damage claims growing out of damage to Plaintiffs' trees allegedly caused by DuPont's herbicide, Imprelis. After months of negotiation, the parties have reached a settlement.*fn1 To that end, they have filed a motion for preliminary approval of the proposed class settlement. Because the proposed settlement is within the range of possible approval, the requirements of conditional class certification are met, and the proffered notice plan is well designed, the Court will grant the parties' motion.
In the fall of 2010, DuPont introduced Imprelis, a new herbicide
designed to kill selectively unwanted weeds without harming non-target
vegetation. After widespread reports of damage to non-target
vegetation, the EPA began investigating Imprelis, leading to lawsuits,
a suspension of Imprelis sales, and, ultimately, an EPA order
preventing DuPont from selling Imprelis.*fn2 In September 2011, DuPont designed and
initiated its own Claim Resolution Process to compensate for Imprelis
damage. Notwithstanding DuPont's voluntary undertakings, Plaintiffs
continued to pursue their lawsuits, alleging consumer fraud and
consumer protection act violations, breach of express and/or implied
warranty, negligence, strict products liability, nuisance, and
trespass claims based on the laws of numerous states.*fn3
After months of settlement discussions, including mediation
with a retired magistrate judge, the parties reached a settlement
agreement. The elements of that agreement are outlined below.
The proposed settlement classes will consist of:
Property Owner Class (Class 1):
All persons or entities who (a) own or owned property in the United States to which Imprelis was applied from August 31, 2010 through August 21, 2011, or (b) own or owned property in the United States adjacent to property to which Imprelis was applied from August 31, 2010 through August 21, 2011 and whose trees show damage from Imprelis on or before the date of entry of the Preliminary Approval Order ("Adjacent Property Owner"). Excluded from Class 1 are (1) any Judges to whom this Action is assigned and any members of their immediate families and (2) any property owners whose properties were used for the testing of Imprelis or developmental formulations containing the same active ingredient.
Applicator Class (Class 2):
All persons or entities that, from August 31, 2010 through August 21, 2011, purchased Imprelis (and/or received Imprelis directly or indirectly from a purchaser) and applied it to property in the United States as part of their normal business, other than property that they own or owned ("Applicators"). Excluded from Class 2 are any Judges to whom this Action is assigned and any members of their immediate family.
Golf Courses and Other Self Applicators Class (Class 3):
All persons or entities that, from August 31, 2010 through August 21, 2011, purchased Imprelis (and/or received Imprelis directly or indirectly from a purchaser) and applied it to properties in the United States that they own or owned ("Self Applicators"). Excluded from Class 3 are any Judges to whom this Action is assigned and any members of their immediate family.
Under the proposed settlement, class members will receive the following: Members of the Property Owner Class will receive a warranty on replacement trees, with the warranty expiring on May 31, 2015. DuPont will also remove damaged trees or provide compensation for their removal under specified circumstances and will pay for damaged trees pursuant to the schedule set out in Exhibit 15 to the Settlement Agreement.*fn4 DuPont will also pay each Property Owner Class Member certain tree care and maintenance payments pursuant to the schedule set forth in Exhibit 18 to the Settlement Agreement, as well as an additional payment for incidental damages in an amount equal to 15% of the total value of the other payments and services provided to that Class Member under the settlement. Should Class Members disagree with the settlement amount offered, they may appeal their offer to a panel of arborists. Finally, Property Owner Class Members will not be releasing any claims for environmental or personal injury damages by participating in the settlement.
Members of the Applicator Class will receive compensation for customer site visits, field work, and other such expenses incurred prior to September 6, 2011, as well as continued compensation for such activities if they elect to participate in the claims process. To the extent they have not already done so, Applicator Class Members may also participate in the Imprelis recall program. By participating in the proposed settlement, applicators will not release their rights to recover for lost profits or for damages arising from suits brought against them by third parties relating to Imprelis. Members of the Self Applicator Class will receive all the benefits provided to members of the ...