Dear Lawn Care Operator:
DuPont recently issued a letter to LCOs explaining their “Imprelis Claims Resolution Process” and requesting the cooperation of LCOs to “work together [with DuPont] to ensure that all affected parties are fairly compensated.” DuPont’s letter contains some encouraging promises and shows that they need the help of LCOs to keep those promises. DuPont is taking an important step in the right direction, and we hope that they will take full responsibility for their actions and provide all affected parties with fair compensation. We encourage all LCOs—including our clients—to give DuPont the opportunity to do so.
The underlying theme of DuPont’s letter is a commitment to pay fair compensation for all the problems Imprelis has caused. Of course, DuPont acknowledges that a fair process depends requires the cooperation of LCOs who know their customers better than anyone. DuPont has also promised to be fair with the LCOs and promises to pay LCOs for efforts to work with property owners to facilitate DuPont’s claims process.
DuPont’s letter is specific about how they intend to compensate property owners, but fails to state what they will pay LCOs for doing the work DuPont is asking of them. Because the devil is in the details, LCOs will need to careffully document time and costs spent to date and in the future as a result of Imprelis. For example, in the spirit of fairness, DuPont should offer to fully compensate LCOs for:
• The cost of Imprelis purchased;
• The costs to store and dispose of Imprelis properly;
• The costs to clean Imprelis equipment;
• Time expended applying Imprelis;
• Time spent investigating and assessing damage;
• Time spent educating customers and responding to complaints and concerns;
• Out of pocket costs to retain experts, legal advice or other assistance from third parties;
• Opportunity costs for work or business LCOs could not do because they were busy dealing with the Imprelis issue;
• Ongoing efforts and expenses to be expended in facilitating DuPont’s claims process; and
• Future efforts and expenses related to replacement and maintenance of impacted trees.
DuPont’s plan is specific about what it will pay LCOs to gather very detailed data, show photographic proofs of damages to customers’ property and provide DuPont with private customer information. In this first phase of the claims process DuPont desperately needs you the LCO, to gather this information so DuPont can determine the extent of their imprelis liability.
We encourage LCOs to cooperate within reason to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible for their customers. However, LCOs are wise to carefully examine what DuPont is asking of them. A closer look reveals that DuPont wants LCOs to act as an administrator, a claims adjuster and potentially an attorney for all of their customer’s claims. The proposed claims process sounds easy but is saturated with complex and time consuming issues for LCOs to work out. Most LCOs do not have the time, training or resources required over the next months or years to do what is asked of them.
If your insurance covered this type of loss they would send an experienced adjuster out to do the work of documenting your customers’ losses and your losses. LCOs that are currently represented by counsel will turn this claims process over to their attorney, whose staff is trained to know what DuPont is responsible to pay under the law and to develop the proper proofs necessary to obtain the fair recovery DuPont is promising. DuPont prefers that LCOs take on this task because they cannot possibly staff this enormous job without great expense.
DuPont proposed completing this huge undertaking in just two months. That is a very ambitious goal and that deadline may need to be extended. If you don’t want to deal with the claims process alone, we are willing to help. We can take the heavy lifting of the claims process off your hands, so that you can focus on running your business. We can also make sure that you and your customers are treated fairly and fully compensated for your losses. Here are a few of the other benefits of being represented in the claims resolution process:
• LCOs will get a partner experienced in the claims process who understands the legal rights of LCOs and their customers;
• We’ll handle the process of claims documentation and submission to limit the amount of time LCOs spend on the claims process;
• We’ll take on the upfront costs that you would otherwise incur;
• We’ll help you submit your claim to include all of the costs, inconveniences or problems that you have experienced as a consequence of Imprelis;
• LCOs won’t be put into the risky position of negotiating on behalf of their customers or having to give advice regarding accepting offers or releasing claims;
• LCOs will get assistance in communicating effectively with customers and preserving customer relationships;
• LCOs will benefit from the advice and perspective of experienced claims specialists in negotiating their claims with DuPont; and
• LCOs claims will be well documented reducing DuPont’s resistance to payment and positioning LCOs for negotiation if DuPont responds with unfair lowball offers.
Reaching a fair resolution will certainly require a great deal of specialized work followed by negotiation and persuasion from a position of strength. Some LCOs may elect to do this work themselves. In the end, we believe that LCOs who are represented in the claims process will recover more—even after fees—and expend far less time and energy, than LCOs who try to do it on their own.
Given that you may have particular concerns, we are happy to talk with you about how we might be able to help you. Please do not hesitate to contact us to with any questions you may have.