A $1.51 billion settlement has been reached in the nationwide class action lawsuit filed in Kansas federal court over Syngenta’s genetically modified corn seed. It is believed to be the largest agricultural litigation settlement in U.S. history. The settlement covers all U.S. corn producers – farmers and crop share landlords – as well as grain handling facilities and ethanol plants nationwide who sold corn priced after September 15, 2013.
Syngenta was being sued for selling a strain of corn seed called Viptera to U.S. farmers starting in 2011, before it was approved by China for corn imports. This resulted in U.S. corn farmers being effectively locked out of the China market until the corn strain was approved in 2014.
The litigation has been led by four lawyers who were appointed Co-Lead and Class Counsel by the Court - William Chaney of Gray Reed & McGraw LLP, Patrick Stueve of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, Don Downing of Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., and Scott Powell of Hare Wynn Newell & Newton.
The four co-lead counsel issued a statement: “We are very pleased with this outcome. America’s corn farmers and related businesses were hurt economically and this settlement will provide fair compensation for their damages. It is an equitable result for all involved.”
Who is Covered Under this Syngenta Corn Class Action Settlement?
All corn growers, grain handling facilities and ethanol plants across the country – as defined in the settlement and who choose to stay in the settlement – are covered by this settlement, including any U.S. farmers who opted out of previous Syngenta litigation.
The Syngenta Genetically Modified Corn Seed Litigation
Judge Lungstrum of the District of Kansas certified the nationwide class action lawsuit in September 2016 and will now have to finalize the settlement.
Eight state class action lawsuits were also certified in the multi-district litigation. The four co-lead plaintiff’s counsel in the nationwide class action lawsuit also represented more than 7,000 Kansas farmers in the first and only state class action lawsuit to be tried to a verdict. In June 2017, a Kansas jury returned a $217.7 million verdict in favor of the Kansas growers.
These farmers, as well as all corn farmers nationwide, will be covered under this class action settlement and must submit a claim form to receive compensation.