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Dicamba Crop Damage Multidistrict Litigation

By March 24, 2020 March 30th, 2020 Blog

Earlier this year a jury awarded a Missouri farmer $265 million in a lawsuit over economic damages his operation suffered when dicamba herbicide drifted onto his peach orchards, destroying much of his livelihood. This was the first lawsuit filed by farmers alleging damages due to off-target movement of dicamba and the first one to go to trial.  But it is far from the only dicamba lawsuit.

Farmers across the country have filed other dicamba lawsuits in state and federal courts.  In February 2018, all federal dicamba lawsuits were consolidated for retrial purposes by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation and transferred to the United States District Court, Eastern Missouri, which is located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Gray, Ritter & Graham attorney Don Downing was named Chair of the Plaintiffs Executive Committee for this dicamba multidistrict litigation.  He is responsible for directing the litigation on behalf of the plaintiff farmers in the MDL, which includes both individual lawsuits and class action cases alleging dicamba crop damage.

Class Action Lawsuits for Farmers

Class action lawsuits typically involve a large number of individuals who have been hurt in a similar fashion by a large corporation.  Their injuries are normally economic .  In the dicamba crop damage cases, farmers are suing Bayer for the financial hardships they’ve endured when the Monsanto herbicide drifted and damaged their crops, which were not resistant to the herbicide.  Bayer purchased St. Louis-based Monsanto in 2018.

In class action lawsuits, a few individuals are typically designated as lead plaintiffs for the entire class of individuals who have been hurt by  actions of a corporation. Because the legal costs for pursuing litigation against large corporations sometimes can be prohibitive for individual plaintiffs, class action lawsuits makes pursuing justice for them all financial feasible..

Dicamba Multidistrict Litigation

In the dicamba multidistrict litigation, as well as other MDLs, consolidating federal lawsuits – both individual and class action lawsuits – help streamline the legal process for complex litigation. Plaintiff attorneys, such as those on the dicamba MDL Plaintiffs Executive Committee, do discovery work, which is the investigative phase of the litigation.  Corporate documents are sought and reviewed, and witnesses may be interviewed and/or deposed.. Expert witnesses also are identified and retained.

Once discovery is complete, the presiding MDL judge determines how to proceed.  One option is to hold a series of individual bellwether trials.  Those are cases pulled from the MDL that are tried individually.  The results of bellwether trials may give a good indication as to the likely outcome of future trials, and can lead to a settlement.

An example was the 2011 settlement with Bayer Cropscience that provided $750 million to U.S. rice farmers whose crops were contaminated by unapproved GMO rice seed. The settlement occurred after a series of bellwether trials.

If you are a farmer hurt by off-target movement  of dicamba or an individual seriously injured by any defective product, you may wish to pursue class action or individual litigation to obtain justice.  Speak with an experienced class action lawyer about your circumstances.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog March 24, 2020