United Phosphorus lawsuit against BASF and Micro Flo for counterfeit pesticide sales moves forward

provided by United Phosphorus

he multimillion-dollar case originally filed by United Phosphorus against Micro Flo and BASF Corporation (Micro Flo's parent company) has passed a significant milestone. That case alleges that Micro Flo and BASF imported and sold millions of pounds of illegal, unapproved pesticides in the United States.

    The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia on May 28, 2002, denied Micro Flo's Motion to Dismiss United Phosphorus' civil case. As a result, the case can finally begin moving toward trial.

    The case originated when United Phosphorus (“UP”) discovered that Micro Flo had registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under Micro Flo's own name, various pesticides produced by UP in India. EPA granted those registrations based on UP's pesticides, and Micro Flo's certifications that its products would contain only UP's pesticidal active ingredients.

    Despite those certifications, extensive evidence shows that Micro Flo imported millions of pounds of illegal, unapproved pesticides from other foreign producers. EPA's own investigations confirmed that Micro Flo smuggled and then sold millions of pounds of counterfeit pesticides under false claims that they were registered by EPA and produced by UP.

    According to EPA, those pesticides did not contain UP's high quality, EPA-approved active ingredients. Instead, those products contained potentially dangerous, low grade pesticides that had never been approved by EPA. Because of these violations of federal law, in September 2001 EPA brought the largest enforcement case ever brought by the federal government for pesticide-related violations against Micro Flo. EPA is seeking over $3.7 million in penalties, and has asserted over 670 separate violations by Micro Flo.

    UP's civil lawsuit, seeking over $50 million in damages, is based on much of the same conduct that EPA has now confirmed was illegal. Micro Flo thus far has been able to stave off litigation by raising a series of objections to UP's claims. However, on May 28, 2002, the District Court for the Middle District of Georgia declined to dismiss the majority of UP's state law civil claims, and denied Micro Flo's attempt to delay the proceedings any further. The district court did dismiss some of UP's claims, however, the majority of its claims remain, including claims for punitive damages.

    According to Troobnick, “Independent of EPA, federal law allows UP to seek separate damages from BASF and Micro Flo. Having overcome Micro Flo's latest efforts to avoid its day of reckoning, we now fully expect UP's rights to be wholly vindicated in court, and to achieve full recovery for the harm UP has suffered.”

    United Phosphorus (www.upi-usa.com) is located in India, with US offices in Trenton, New Jersey. It is one of the world's largest producers of high quality, generic pesticides and other specialty chemicals.

    BASF (www.basf.com) is one of the world's largest, multinational conglomerates with US headquarters in Mount Olive, New Jersey. Sales in the United States alone were $7.9 billion in 2000. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Micro Flo Company (www .microflocompany.com) is located in Memphis, Tennessee.

    The law firm of Wright & Sielaty (www.chemlaw.com), located in Lake Ridge, Virginia, is one of the nation's largest legal practices exclusively devoted to representing pesticide, chemical and life science companies on business, regulatory, enforcement and data compensation issues.