Aronimink Golf Club loses lawsuit against DuPont over damage to trees

By Dee Thompson | Sep 6, 2017

PHILADELPHIA – A venerable Newtown Square golf club that sued DuPont claiming damage to its trees has had its claim dismissed.

The Aronimink Golf Club has been operating since 1900 and is considered one of the top golf courses in the United States.

Aronimink Golf Club Inc. v. E.I. DuPont Nemours and Co. was originally filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County Pennsylvania in December 2015. 

DuPont develops and manufactures chemicals, and in 2010 it sold a herbicide called Imprelis primarily to golf clubs, athletic fields and sod farms. Aronimink claims Imprelis, which DuPont claimed would kill weeds but not damage turf grass or ornamental plants, was applied in May 2012.

According to the original complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, “The label and instructions provided by DuPont omit critical and crucial information that trees and other non-targeted vegetation are susceptible to harm from Imprelis and that if Imprelis is applied as directed, trees and non-targeted vegetation will be injured and killed by the product.”

In 2014, the trees of Aronimink were inspected by an arborist and it was found that “twisted tips of new growth on the pine trees” were caused by the use of Imprelis, according to the original complaint. The complaint states that by the summer of 2015, Imprelis had caused damage and even death to trees, as well as $117,250 in damage, the suit states.

The allegations in the original complaint include fraud, unfair trade practices, products liability, negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty and unjust enrichment. 

The case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

According to a press release  Environmental Protection Agency, in September of 2014 DuPont agreed to pay $1.853 million in civil penalties to settle “for alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The CAFO alleges that DuPont violated FIFRA by selling or distributing the misbranded pesticide product -- DuPont ImprelisTM Herbicide -- on 320 occasions in 2010 and 2011 and by failing to timely submit 18 field trial study reports to EPA indicating potential adverse effects from the use of Imprelis.”  

DuPont moved to dismiss the case because it claimed that Imprelis was also applied to the Aronimink trees in May of 2011, thus making it a member of a class and barring Aronimink from bringing any damages due to Imprelis. 

The class action lawsuit was settled in 2014. Aronimink didn’t receive settlement money nor was it listed as opting out of the settlement.

On Aug. 14, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that “After oral argument, the court converted the motion to one for summary judgment and allowed very limited discovery and further briefing. Upon review of all of the briefing now submitted, the court will grant DuPont's motion and dismiss Aronimink's claims,” according to the court’s memorandum.

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Delaware County Court of Common Pleas U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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