3 Bellwether Plaintiffs’ Verdicts in Rice Crops Case, $4M Collective Awards for Rice Farmers, Global Settlement of $750M for Farmers; over $1.1 Billion Total Settlement

Gray Ritter Graham attorney Don Downing was the court-appointed co-lead counsel who steered multi-district litigation against Bayer CropScience and other entities after unapproved experimental rice contaminated the U.S. rice supply.  Over 10,000 rice producers and dozens of businesses were plaintiffs.  Under Downing’s leadership, attorneys appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee conducted over a hundred depositions, analyzed and coded millions of documents, retained numerous experts, and prepared the first 34 cases for trial. 

Gray Ritter Graham attorney Gretchen Garrison led the briefing team, which defeated numerous attempts at dismissal and secured important rulings, including that the Plant Protection Act did not permit presence of still-regulated genetically modified material in the conventional crop supply, the first such ruling in the country.

Three bellwether cases in 4 states went to trial.  Don and Gretchen were trial counsel along with other Executive Committee members.  Each trial involved weeks of evidence. Each resulted in plaintiffs’ verdicts in the collective amount of $4 million.  The Judge commented that the evidence was well-organized, well-presented, and persuasive.  

After the bellwether trials, Gretchen was lead appellate counsel on three appeals to the Eighth Circuit attempting to overturn the verdicts.

Don led negotiations resulting in a $750 million global settlement of rice producer claims.  The ultimate value of all settlements was $1.1 billion.

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