Disclaimer: Paul does not take any position on the claims asserted against Syngenta or on whether producers join in a class action lawsuit against Syngenta. This article is for informational purposes only.
On September 26, 2017, Syngenta agreed to settle claims brought by U.S. farmers for bringing Viptera and Duracade corn varieties to market before approval in China. News of the settlement came after weeks of a trial involving about 22,000 Minnesota corn growers seeking $400 million in damages, following a settlement in June where a jury awarded over 7,000 Kansas corn growers $218 million in damages. While terms of this late September settlement are currently unknown, reports are that Syngenta is seeking to establish a fund of around $1.5 billion to settle this ongoing litigation. These class action lawsuits currently involve corn growers who priced corn after November 18, 2013, and who did not purchase Viptera or Duracade corn varieties.
What Do We Know?
We don’t know much as it relates to the terms of the settlement. The terms will remain undisclosed till the settlement is presented to Judge Lungstrum later this year. Although this settlement is potentially for current class action claims for only a few states, Maryland and Delaware are not a part of any of the certified classes. Corn growers in these two states had been part of a nationwide class, but the court dismissed the nationwide class claims in April 2017.
When news of the settlement hit the press, law firms representing the nationwide class announced that they continue to negotiate with Syngenta to settle all claims in the country, not just those in the eight states with classes certified in the federal lawsuit. We will potentially see a second announcement in the coming weeks with news of the settlement of all claims by U.S. corn growers against Syngenta.
What Do You Need to Do?
Keep an eye on the news for an announcement of this second settlement to settle all U.S. claims. Maryland and Delaware growers had the option to opt-out of the nationwide class by April 1, 2017. Those Maryland and Delaware growers who did so need to contact individual attorneys to pursue individual claims against Syngenta. Future settlements may not potentially include those growers who opted out.
Those growers who did not opt out of the class action litigation need to pay attention to the news for an announcement settling all U.S. claims against Syngenta. In reaching such a settlement, though, both the court and class members will still have to approve the settlement’s terms.