Terra Industries, Du Pont Settle $60 Million Benlate Lawsuit
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) _ Du Pont Co. agreed Wednesday to assume responsibility for all pending crop contamination claims against Terra Industries Inc. over Benlate, which produced the fungicide for Du Pont.
The agreement settled a $60 million lawsuit filed in 1991 in Iowa by Terra against Du Pont and a countersuit in Delaware by Du Pont against Terra. Terra is based in Sioux City and Du Pont is based in Wilmington, Del.
No exchange of money is involved in the settlement, the companies said.
Du Pont, which already is the primary defendant in all Benlate claims, said it did not expect any significant impact on its earnings from the settlement.
″At the moment, our reserves more than cover any costs, judgments on appeal or settlements related to Benlate litigation,″ Du Pont spokeswoman Pat Getter said.
Benlate, designed to protect crops from about 200 fungal diseases was made for Du Pont by Terra and other crop protection product manufacturers between 1988 and 1990.
In 1989, some 300 farmers and growers nationwide claimed crop damage from Benlate. Terra and its insurer paid about $60 million in claims, according to court documents.
In other cases:
-A Florida jury in September awarded $3 million to an orchid grower who claimed that Benlate killed more than 70,000 of his plants. Du Pont is appealing the ruling.
-A federal jury in Arkansas in September ordered Du Pont to pay $10 million to 23 farmers whose crops were damaged. Du Pont is appealing.
-Du Pont agreed in August to pay $4.25 million to settle a federal lawsuit brough in Georgia by four farmers.
-Du Pont earlier had paid more than $500 million in claims to farmers before announcing that its tests had exonerated the fungicide. Hundreds of suits are still pending.
Terra claimed Du Pont withheld information and that the product turned out to have unacceptably high levels of atrazine, a weedkiller.
Following the contamination reports, the federal Environmental Protection Agency recalled a version of the fungicide, known as Benlate DF, in March 1991.
Du Pont denied any intentional misrepresentation and sought to have the case dismissed.