A Kansas federal judge has ruled that hundreds of thousands of corn farmers’ claims against Syngenta may proceed as a class action.
The federal lawsuit filed in Kansas City seeks to represent more than 350,000 corn farmers in the United States who claim that Syngenta, which is based in Switzerland, prematurely and irresponsibly sold Agrisure Viptera and Duracade, which caused significant losses to corn farmers across the U.S. in the fall of 2013 or later. Farmers say that the value of a bushel of corn fell drastically because Syngenta sold products to them that contained the genetically modified trait that had not yet been approved by China, a leading importer of U.S. corn.
When China discovered the trait, it stopped importing corn from the U.S. Plaintiffs say that Syngenta in 2012 convinced farmers to buy the seeds in question by saying that China was going to approve Viptera and Duracade within a matter of days, but China did not approve Viptera until December 2014.
It’s estimated U.S. corn producers lost between $5 billion and $7 billion in current and future revenue because of China’s decision to halt the imported corn. There are more than 440,000 corn farmers in the U.S. according to the Department of Agriculture.
Judge John W. Lungstrum found that a class action was superior to hundreds of thousands of individual lawsuits. The class certification covers farmers in every state. The court has not yet set a deadline for formers to decide whether they want to be excluded from the class.
Indiana law firm Wagner Reese filed a proposed class action against Syngenta on behalf of Indiana farmers in November in Marion Superior Court, Civil Division 2. That case was removed to federal court and then moved to the MDL in Kansas in December.
The order certifies several classes, including a nationwide class consisting of all corn producers who priced any corn for sale after Nov. 18, 2013, and eight statewide classes. At this time, the corn producers from Indiana were not included in a statewide class.
It’s anticipated Lungstrum will try the first MDL case against Syngenta in June 2017.