Responses differ to fertilizer fiasco
SILVERTHORNE – Some people are happy and some people aren’t.Then again, some people have their money and some people don’t.The numerous cases of lawn damage that appear to have stemmed from a fertilizer mistakenly sold at the Target store in Silverthorne have taken different paths. Some customers have settled their claims while others are threatening legal action.Meanwhile, the Colorado Department of Agriculture has finished a report on the matter that allegedly fingers Target as the one to blame for allowing the product, Scott’s Bonus S Weed & Feed, to end up on store shelves.There are at least five confirmed cases of lawns suffering damage from the chemical atrazine, which is contained in the fertilizer and is not licensed for sale in Colorado. At least two others are waiting for the results of soil samples.”I saw this thing on the shelf and thought, “We’ll try it,'” Eagles Nest resident Daniel Mead said. “I just assumed because they were selling it here in the county, that it was OK for use.””Within two or three weeks everything was dead,” he said.That also was the experience of Susan and William Cassel of Kremmling.”We didn’t know what to attribute it to,” said William Cassel, who thought he was somehow responsible for killing his grass. “Through the whole process, we, in kind of a small-town way, found out there were some other people (who had the same experience).”Both Mead, who is a retired lawyer, and the Cassels have since settled with Target for undisclosed sums. The Cassels said Target agreed to re-sod 5,000 square feet of bluegrass in their yard. Mead said the amount he’d received was close enough to an estimate done by local landscaping company Neils Lunceford Nursery that he was satisfied.”I’ll live with it,” Mead said, noting he did not want to go through any further litigation. “I’m a retired lawyer. I don’t want anything to do with that anymore.”However, other people have not drawn the same conclusion.”I didn’t want to go that far if I didn’t have to,” Silverthorne resident Sherry Essink said of pursuing legal action.Essink said she has received estimates for up to $57,000 for damage done to her lawn and trees by the fertilizer and that Target had offered to pay for half of the yard, or $20,000, and none of the trees.”I just won’t accept that,” she said.She said she had contacted an attorney and if she had not made arrangements with Target by the end of the week she would pursue what avenues she could in that manner.”I’m just waiting,” she said. “This has been going on since May and they’re just not willing to work with us on it.”Silverthorne resident Sherry Rinaldi said she was in a similar position.”It’s just frustrating for everybody,” she said. “Just pay us to have our yard back and go away and leave us alone.”Rinaldi said she had not settled with the company because it had not offered to cover the full damage to her yard and because she refused to sign a waiver releasing Target from any liability in the matter.”We shouldn’t have to pick and choose what part of our yard we want to replace,” she said. “They should replace the whole thing.”Though Essink and Rinaldi are unhappy, both Mead and Cassel said they were satisfied with the response they’d received from Target.”My professional opinion is I think they’re trying hard to get everybody’s property back in shape,” Mead said. “Now everybody has a different opinion as to what that would be.””They did treat us fairly and are replacing the sod and they’re replacing the dirt,” Cassel said. “They’ve been pretty interested in kind of expediting the process and getting everything taken care of.”Meanwhile, Rinaldi said the Colorado Department of Agriculture, which is investigating the matter, had notified her that it had finished a report placing the blame on the store.Department officials declined to comment on the matter, saying the investigation was ongoing.Target released a statement saying only that all claims were being processed as they were received and that anyone who had purchased Scott’s Bonus S Weed & Feed was invited to go through the company’s claims process.Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or email@example.com.
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