(Kansas City) The United States District Court in Kansas has named a team of four attorneys to lead the multi-district litigation cases filed against Syngenta. The entire co-lead counsel team includes Gray, Ritter & Graham’s Don Downing, Gray Reed & McGraw’s William Chaney, Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton’s Scott Powell and Stueve Siegel Hanson’s Patrick Stueve.
According to Syngenta, they currently face over 360 lawsuits filed in courts across the country by corn farmers, grain handlers, exporters and others. As co-lead counsel, Chaney, Downing, Powell and Stueve will lead the preparation and presentation of all plaintiffs' claims against Syngenta. Their duties include coordinating all discovery in the cases, and speaking on behalf of plaintiffs at all court conferences and hearings.
The lawsuits, filed last year, allege that Syngenta knowingly released genetically modified corn into the marketplace as part of their Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade lines. American corn farmers grew that corn and attempted to sell it to China. However, when China, a major importer of U.S. corn, detected a genetic trait found in Viptera - MIR162 – and began refusing shipments of U.S. corn.
In part, the order states…
They all have done extensive work identifying and investigating potential claims; are experienced in handling complex litigation, including litigation involving genetically modified grain; are knowledgeable in the law; have demonstrated themselves as able and willing to work with diverse interests among plaintiffs as well as with the court and opposing counsel; and they bring the resources necessary to sustain this litigation without untoward involvement by non-party, non-lawyer funders. Moreover, they received excellent references from other judges before whom they have practiced, both for their skills and their collegiality. Much the same could be said about the other candidates, but the DCPS group stood out.
To read the entire order, click here.
The law firms also played a major role in a 2011 $750 million settlement on behalf of U.S. rice farmers who similarly suffered financially due to genetically modified rice seed.
The case filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) is Wilson Farm Inc. et al v. Syngenta AG et al, No.4:14-cv-01908. The case filed in U.S. District Court for the State of Kansas (Kansas City, Kan.) is Five Star Farms et al v. Syngenta AG et al, No. 2:14-cv-02571. The Judicial Panel on MultiDistrict Litigation has recently ordered all cases against Syngenta to be consolidated in coordinated proceedings before the Honorable Judge John W. Lungstrum in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas (Kansas City). That venue was one of the choices of venues supported by the firms.
Syngenta Corn Litigation Website
The firms have introduced a website specifically for those interested in learning more about these Viptera class action lawsuits against Syngenta and how corn growers can become a part of them: www.syngentacornlitigation.com