General
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Last Update:
March 1, 2012
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24 – Risks from litigation and claims

Since 2005, a total of 38 class action lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts against urethane and polyurethane producers, including BASF SE and BASF Corporation. It was alleged that sales of TDI, MDI and polyether polyols had violated antitrust laws on price fixing. In addition, two plaintiffs have opted out of the class action process and are pursuing their claims in parallel suits. At the end of 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice ceased its inquiry into alleged price fixing. BASF settled the class action lawsuits on September 17, 2011 and agreed to pay $51 million. The settlement was conclusively approved by the courts in December 2011. It does not include the two parallel claims currently being pursued. BASF is defending itself against these lawsuits.

BASF S.A., Brazil, and Shell are defendants in several individual lawsuits and one class action lawsuit regarding existing and potential health damage to former employees (including employees of external companies), their families and descendants due to their employment at a site in Paulinia, Brazil, which was significantly contaminated by the production of crop protection products. BASF acquired the site from American Cyanamid in 2000, who had in turn acquired it from Shell in 1995. The contamination stems from the period before 2000. In August 2010, BASF S.A. and Shell were jointly ordered to pay damages for medical treatment and personal suffering equivalent to approximately €490 million, not including interest. The appeal against this first-instance judgment was rejected on April 4, 2011. BASF S.A. has applied for the right to appeal to a higher court. On March 30, 2011, BASF S.A. brought a suit for a declaratory judgment against Shell to determine that Shell is responsible for the full amount of damages resulting from the contamination at the Paulinia site, which had been caused by Shell. Currently BASF S.A. and Shell are in settlement talks with one another and with the plaintiffs.

In addition, BASF SE and its affiliated companies are defendants in or parties to further judicial and arbitrational proceedings. Based on the current state of knowledge, these proceedings will have no material influence on the economic situation of BASF.

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