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

Harvesting corn in Maryland with combine dumping grain into truck. Image by the Chesapeake Bay Program.

            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, but recently the Settlement website has been updated to reflect to show that class members can expect to see class determinations will go out in July 2019 that will show their compensable recovery quantity.  Other producers who did not supply enough information, should have gotten notices of rejection in June 2019.  Payment timing is expected to be at the earliest February 2020.

            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).

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.

            Several 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. But from recent posts on www.cornseedsettlement.com growers who participated in the suit should expect to see information later this month with potential settlement checks coming in February 2020.

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