Where Are My Syngenta Settlement Payments: Why Have Checks Not Been Issued Yet?

A farmer harvests corn in Queen Anne’s County, Md. Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

The article is not a substitute for legal advice.

            A number of you have asked when potential Syngenta settlement checks would be released to growers.  In late 2018, the settlement order was approved for the $1.51 billion MIR162 Syngenta settlement.  Based on the final order, payments to producers should have started going out in the second quarter of 2019.  At this time that has not happened due to a number of unresolved appeals which could impact the final settlement.  Till these issues are resolved or we have more information, Mid-Atlantic growers should remain patient.

            The settlement includes all U.S. corn farmers, including those who opted out of the original class action suit and those who grew Agrisure Duracade corn and Agrisure Viptera corn varieties.  The settlement will also include landlords who based rental rates on yield or price, such as a flex-lease based on yield or price or a crop-share lease.  Fixed cash landlords are not eligible to participate.  The period included in the settlement is September 15, 2013, through the 2018 crop year. 

            The settlement will include four classes:

  • Class 1: Growers and eligible landlords who did not use Duricade or Viptera,
  • Class 2: Growers and eligible landlords who did use Duricade or Viptera,
  • Class 3: Grain handlers, and
  • Class 4: Ethanol producers.

Claims to three of the four classes will have limited recovery amounts: 

  • Class 1 will receive a minimum of $1.44 billion, with the bulk of the settlement going to corn growers and eligible landlords who did not grow Duricade or Viptera corn seeds. 
  • Class 2 will be limited to $22.6 million,
  • Class 3 will be limited to $29.9 million, and
  • Class 4 will be limited to $19.5 million.

            As a part of the settlement order, the court set aside $503,333,333.33 for attorneys’ fees.  A later order clarified that the attorneys’ fees should be divided up by the following percentages:

  • 49 percent to pool Kansas Multi-District Litigation attorneys,
  • 23.5 percent to pool for Minnesota state court attorneys,
  • 15.5 percent to pool for Illinois state court attorneys, and
  • 12 percent to individual retained private attorneys (IRPAs).
A farmer harvests corn in Queen Anne’s County, Md. Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program

This later order invalidates many of the contingent fee agreements, where attorneys would collect a percentage of amounts recovered by their clients in the settlement.

            A number of IRPAs are currently appealing the final order, arguing the judge did not have the authority to invalidate the contingent fee agreements.  At the same time, other appeals are on-going from class members claiming the final settlement is not fair to the class members. 

            These on-going appeals could potentially impact how final settlement checks are distributed to growers.  Appeals regarding the fairness of the settlement will potentially need to be fully settled before the funds can be distributed to growers.  At the same time, the IRPAs’ appeals may need to be settled before funds can be distributed.  I will post additional information once that becomes available.

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