SYNGENTA CORN CASE SETTLEMENT UPDATE
March 1, 2018
The Special Master did not file a written progress report on February 22, and the Court cancelled the February 26 status conference. The Plaintiffs’ Settlement Negotiation Committee is rumored to have signed a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) that will be presented to the Court shortly. But the Committee has not made it available for review by corn producers and their lawyers. So, on February 27, the Firm filed a motion to delay consideration of the MSA to protect the interests of all corn producers until their lawyers have had an opportunity to review the MSA and provide input.
February 5, 2018
In September 2017, Syngenta agreed to pay U.S. corn producers $1.4 billion to settle the sprawling litigation over Syngenta’s premature release of its MIR 162 GMO corn seed before the seed was approved by China.
At that time, the judges overseeing the Syngenta corn litigation appointed a plaintiffs’ settlement negotiating committee to work with the court-appointed Special Master to craft a settlement distribution plan. Since then, the judges have held several status conferences with the committee and the Special Master, but a corn case settlement distribution plan has yet to be delivered.
The most recent status conference was held on January 25, 2018. Prior to starting, the committee members advised the judges that they still did not have an agreed-upon corn case settlement distribution plan. So, the judges briefly delayed the status conference and met with each committee member individually to review the situation. Then they held the status conference.
At the end of the day—much to the dismay of the class action lawyers—the judges confirmed that the corn case settlement must be distributed on a claims-made basis. In other words, to receive a share of the settlement funds, corn producers must file a formal claim with the settlement administrator.
In our view, this is the right decision for many reasons. It is also consistent with the corn case settlement term sheet signed by Syngenta. The judges then directed the committee to resume negotiations and craft a claims-made settlement distribution plan.
The Kansas City federal judge subsequently entered an order directing the Special Master to file a written progress report on the discussions by February 22, 2018. Per the order, “if the settlement documentation is not finalized to the satisfaction of [the Judges] by February 22, 2018, a mandatory settlement meeting shall be held [in Kansas City] … on February 26, 2018.”
The judge further ordered that “at the mandatory settlement meeting, the Required Parties [i.e., Syngenta’s lawyers + the committee members + the Special Master] will be directed to continue finalization of the settlement documentation. The Required Parties should come prepared for evening work. The settlement meeting will continue from day-to-day until the settlement documentation is finalized to the satisfaction of the Court.” (emphasis added).
In other words, the judges are serious about finalizing the deal and distributing the Syngenta corn case settlement. We applaud the judges for taking an active role to move the settlement distribution process forward, and believe it will now begin to pick up steam.
What Should You Do Now?
The short answer is obtain your 2013-2017 FSA Form 578s from your local FSA office.
There will be a deadline to file a corn case settlement claim.
Corn producers will be required to submit their FSA Form 578s as part of their settlement claims.
So now is the time to get them before your local FSA office is overwhelmed with Form 578 requests and you return to the fields. Local FSA offices know about the Syngenta corn litigation settlement. They will mail or email your Form 578s to you at no charge. All it takes is a telephone call.
For more information, please check our dedicated case website, www.corncasesettlement.com where we regularly post updates about significant case developments. You also may sign up for free case update emails. When we post new information about the corn case settlement, it will be emailed to you.
Who We Are
We are not the class action lawyers. We only represent individual plaintiffs asserting their own claims against Syngenta. In fact, we represent over 8800 individual corn producers in 42 states planting over 2.8 million acres of corn per year.
As individual plaintiffs, our clients’ corn case settlement payments will not be delayed by class action administration or objections, nor will they be subject to reversal on appeal. All of these bad outcomes could happen to settlement claims made through the class action.
We are experienced agricultural litigators with national law practices. We represent our clients on a full contingency basis—meaning there are no up-front attorneys’ fees or expenses to pay. What’s more, we will file our clients’ corn case settlement claims for them, so they do not have to take time away from their work in the fields to do so.
Questions? Call or email us. We are hardworking, client-focused lawyers who actually take telephone calls and respond to emails. We are here to help and answer your questions about the Syngenta corn litigation.