25 – Risks from litigation and claims
Since 2005, numerous class action and individual lawsuits have been filed in U.S. and Canadian 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. At the end of 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice ceased its inquiry into alleged price fixing. In 2011 and 2012, BASF concluded all proceedings (except for two dormant U.S. cases) with settlements totaling slightly more than $100 million.
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 and contractors’ employees, 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, including 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. On August 13, 2012, BASF S.A.’s review appeal against this decision was accepted by the highest labor court in Brazil. However, the matter has not yet been decided. BASF S.A. and Shell are in settlement talks with the plaintiffs. BASF S.A. filed a recourse claim against Shell on March 30, 2011. On December 20, 2012, BASF S.A. and Shell signed a settlement agreement in this matter.
In addition, BASF SE and its affiliated companies are defendants in or parties to further judicial, arbitrational and regulatory proceedings. Based on the current state of knowledge, these proceedings will have no material influence on the economic situation of BASF.