An army of attorneys took on an agribusiness giant on behalf of more than 22,000 Minnesota farmers and won.
The defendant was Swiss-based Syngenta, one of the world’s largest producers of crop chemicals. The plaintiffs alleged Syngenta commercialized genetically modified corn seeds before they had been approved for export to China. After discovering the presence of an unapproved genetically modified trait in corn exported from the U.S., China began rejecting shipments of American corn.
The plaintiffs, which also included tens of thousands of farmers from other states, claimed that China’s rejection of genetically modified corn directly resulted in the collapse of international corn prices.
“Because Syngenta’s U.S. headquarters were in Minneapolis, we wanted to keep our cases in Minnesota state court,” said Bassford Remele partner Lewis A. Remele, Jr. “We put together a plaintiffs’ executive committee that included several co-lead counsels.”
The case settled in late September following two-plus weeks of trial. The Minnesota class-action case led to a settlement of not only the Minnesota claims, but all claims for farmers in the United States. The settlement details haven’t been officially released, but Bloomberg News reported the total global settlement to be more than $1.4 billion.
“We were fortunate because we had all the resources we needed to handle this and then some,” said Remele. “We had a very deep team.”
Joining Remele on the Syngenta case were Stanford P. Hill, Casey D. Marshall, Aram V. Desteian, Jeffrey D. Klobucar (Bassford Remele); Daniel E. Gustafson, Karla M. Gluek, Amanda M. Williams, Eric S. Taubel (Gustafson Gluek); Robert K. Shelquist, Rebecca A. Peterson, Craig S. Davis (Lockridge Grindal Nauen); William R. Sieben, Matthew J. Barber, Alicia N. Sieben (Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben).