In September 2022, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Minnesota Federal District Court’s dismissal of Taft’s case. In so doing, the Eighth Circuit established Minnesota as the first state in the country to judicially recognize a farmer’s right to sue an agricultural subsidiary’s parent company for the full amount of its unmet contract and regulatory obligations to the farmer.
The Taft team — attorneys Jack Y. Perry, Maren M. Forde and Andrew S. Dosdall — represents six Minnesota chicken farmers, as well as seven similarly situated chicken farmers in Wisconsin and Iowa. The threshold legal issue was whether these Minnesota farmers had the right under Minnesota law to sue the California parent company, Pitman Farms, for the full amount of its subsidiary Simply Essentials LLC’s unmet contract and regulatory obligations to them.
The Minnesota Legislature passed laws approximately 30 years ago to protect Minnesota farmers by making parent corporations liable to Minnesota farmers for the full amount of their subsidiaries’ unmet contract and regulatory obligations. As applied to Taft’s case, the 8th Circuit’s decision leaves the out-of-state parent company liable for over $12 million in contract and regulatory obligations to the Minnesota farmers.
While Taft has, on remand to the federal district court, proposed a scheduling plan that “gets us to the finish line” within weeks with one dispositive motion, Perry said that Simply Essentials’ counsel has, in contrast, proposed a scheduling plan that will purposefully delay such resolution for several years. Regardless of how and when the case is resolved before the federal district court, Perry concludes that “it’s pretty damn important for all Minnesota farmers that Big Ag can no longer shield itself from its subsidiaries’ contract and regulatory obligations to these farmers.”
Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2022 here.