Wisconsin AG announces environmental settlement with Agro Distribution

By Bryan Cohen | Sep 13, 2013

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced a $774,000 settlement Thursday with Agro Distribution LLC to resolve allegations related to environmental cleanup funds.

Van Hollen's office filed a lawsuit against Agro Distribution LLC, Agriliance LLC and Chartis Specialty Insurance Co., the companies' insurer, in October 2011 to resolve allegations that the defendants misused state reimbursement funds meant for cleaning up a former fertilizer center. Agro Distribution and Agriliance paid the costs of cleaning the Edgerton site and then sought and received reimbursement for the costs from the Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program Fund.

After an audit by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Van Hollen's office alleged Agro Distribution and Agriliance applied the ACCP fund money inappropriately, demanded that they return the money to the fund and asserted claims against Chartis Specialty Insurance.

"As government officials, we have a responsibility to make sure that public funds are used appropriately," Van Hollen said. "We have achieved that objective in this case by recovering this money."

The ACCP fund, which is administered by the DATCP, only provides partial reimbursement for agricultural chemical cleanup costs that are not paid by insurance.

Under the terms of the settlement, Agro, Agriliance and Chartis will pay $550,000 into the ACCP and Agro and Agriliance are barred from applying for any other remediation costs at the Edgerton site. Agro and Agriliance will forego an added $224,000 that the ACCP fund would otherwise pay to the defendants to reimburse them for cleanups at other sites. The defendants did not admit liability or fault as part of the agreement.

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