Benlate class action

The Benlate cases related to an agricultural product manufactured by E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co ('Du Pont US') sold under the trademark of 'Benlate'. The product was designed to act as a fungicide on a wide variety of crops, but caused widespread crop damage throughout the world.

The action

Maurice Blackburn commenced 6 cases in the New South Wales Supreme Court against the Australian subsidiary, Du Pont (Australia) Limited. The causes of action included negligence, breach of contract and breach of statutory provisions. The crops affected were orchids, carnations, capsicums, tomatoes and lettuces, all grown in greenhouses.

United States proceedings

Similar cases against Du Pont US were successful in the USA where Du Pont paid billions of dollars in compensation and damages to US farmers. In these cases it was argued that the problem with Benlate was that the main component, Benomyl, broke down to form a substance toxic to plants, dibutlyurea. Furthermore, it was alleged that Du Pont and its contractors allowed cross-contamination of potent plant killers (herbicides) which were manufactured at the same facilities as Benlate.

The Australian proceedings handled by Maurice Blackburn were discontinued in March 2001 after a confidential settlement was reached in all 6 cases.

Supporting information