My good friends and fellow trial lawyers Jay Urban (Wisconsin) and Rick Schulte (Ohio) filed these cases this week:
Twenty-nine lawsuits were filed Thursday against DuPont in Waukesha County by property owners alleging that the chemical giant's herbicide Imprelis has killed or is killing their trees.
The lawsuits contend that DuPont marketed the weed killer as being environmentally friendly and safe to use and "that is simply not the truth."
"In its relatively short time on the market, DuPont's Imprelis has proven to be a frighteningly effective tree killer," the suits say.
Coniferous trees are particularly susceptible to being damaged or killed by the herbicide, according to the lawsuits.
Among those who are suing DuPont de Nemours and Co. are Summit Police Chief James Race and Waukesha County Circuit Judge Ralph Ramirez.
DuPont is facing similar lawsuits across the country Imprelis, which was first used in the fall of 2010, over tree death and damage.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in August ordered DuPont to stop the sale and use of the herbicide, which was distributed and sold primarily to lawn care professionals.
Race's lawsuit states that a lawn care service applied Imprelis to his property in Ottawa beginning in June of last year and that the herbicide was applied five times according to directions supplied by DuPont.
In the fall, a certified arborist examined trees on Race's property and noted that 25 Norway spruce trees were 75% to 100% brown, dying and twisted, the lawsuit states and that there were other signs of death on all trees on the property.
Trees on a neighboring property also were damaged or dying, the suit says, even though the herbicide was not used on the property. The neighbors, Steven and Janette Zwicke, also are suing DuPont.
"I have 29 trees that are either dead or dying," Race said Thursday. "I have a group of trees that lost their needles over the winter. DuPont knows they killed a lot of trees. They are not taking responsibility for it."
The Zwickes lost a couple dozen trees, Race said.
Ramirez's lawsuit says a lawn service applied Imprelis on the property of his Town of Waukesha residence one time in June and that by October, all eight trees on his property were showing signs of death.
DuPont spokeswoman Kate Childress said Thursday that the company is evaluating its response to the legal complaints.
"DuPont is committed to proper stewardship of all of its products. We are engaged in a comprehensive claims resolution process that fairly addresses claimed damage due to Imprelis," the statement says.
Attorney Jay Urban, who filed the lawsuits on behalf of the Waukesha County homeowners, said "hundreds and hundreds" of trees have been killed by the herbicide in the county.
"It's kind of a sad situation," said Urban, who filed one similar case last fall in Waukesha County. That case was consolidated with cases filed in Pennsylvania, he said.
Urban said he expected to file about 100 more lawsuits in the next two weeks.