First Dicamba Trial Verdict of $265 Million Awarded to Missouri Peach Farmer
On February 14, 2020, a jury awarded $15 million in compensatory damages and the next day awarded $250 million in punitive in damages to Bader Farms – a peach grower in southeastern Missouri – in the first trial in the multidistrict litigation involving U.S. farmers suing Monsanto and BASF over crop damages they suffered from off-target movement of sprayed dicamba herbicide: Bader Farms v. Monsanto, et al., 1:16cv299
The lawsuit was heard in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, before United States District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr.
Thousands of farmers have filed complaints with state agencies regarding off-target movement of dicamba since the dicamba crop system was commercialized. Lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts. All federal cases have been transferred to Judge Limbaugh for pre-trial proceedings.
In 2018, Gray, Ritter & Graham attorney Don Downing was named Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the dicamba multidistrict litigation pending in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.
Don Downing speaking at last year’s American Agriculture Law Association’s annual conference.
Downing’s remarks following the verdict announcement
“This verdict not only is an indictment of defendants’ conduct in commercializing a crop system they knew would harm innocent farmers and others, but also an invitation to all those who have been harmed by defendants’ conduct to seek fair compensation through our justice system. This is further proof that in America a fair and impartial jury can listen to all of the evidence presented by all parties and make the right decision,” Downing remarked following the verdict announcement.
You can hear Don’s interview with Brownfield Ag News about the precedent set by the $256 million verdict for farmers in future dicamba trials here.
Meet the Gray, Ritter & Graham Dicamba Drift Litigation Team
Gray, Ritter & Graham’s agricultural litigation team, led by Don Downing, has been at the forefront of successful financial outcomes for economically damaged farmers in their pursuit of justice against large agricultural companies.
Gray, Ritter & Graham attorneys were co-lead plaintiff counsel in the 2018 $1.51 billion settlement with Syngenta over its genetically modified strains of rice and the 2011 $750 million settlement with Bayer over its rice contamination litigation.
Don Downing is Chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the dicamba multidistrict litigation pending in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri. A native of Kennett, Mo., he has many years of experience representing farmers in agriculture litigation.
In 2015, Mr. Downing was appointed national co-lead plaintiff counsel in multidistrict litigation involving U.S. corn growers’ claims that actions by Switzerland-based Syngenta with its genetically modified strains of corn led to the loss of a chief market for U.S. corn, causing them economic harm. In 2017, in the first certified state class action bellwether trial, he and the three other co-lead plaintiff counsel won a $217.7 million verdict on behalf of Kansas corn farmers. That verdict amount equaled 100 percent of actual damages requested by co-lead counsel.
In 2018, that verdict led to a $1.51 billion settlement of the nationwide class action lawsuit, believed to be the largest agriculture litigation settlement in U.S. history.
He was appointed national co-lead counsel for thousands of plaintiff farmers and other businesses in multi-district litigation involving contamination of the U.S. rice supply by genetically modified rice. He was lead trial counsel in three bellwether rice trials, and obtained plaintiffs’ verdicts totaling in the millions of dollars. Mr. Downing led a negotiation that resulted in a 2011 global settlement for farmers of $750 million. Additional settlement payments to affected businesses have brought total settlement payments to over $1 billion.
He has represented hundreds of farmers in several states and recovered millions of dollars in cases involving defective cotton seed and crop damage caused by herbicide drift. He has obtained a multi-million dollar settlement for a class of farmers in a federal court lawsuit against the federal government. He also has represented farmers in several states in antitrust claims against seed and technology providers.
Gretchen Garrison’s primary practice areas are commercial litigation, complex litigation, and appellate law. She represents individuals and businesses in a wide variety of disputes including negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, shareholder rights, tortious interference, trespass, and breach of contract.
Ms. Garrison was an important part of the team that in 2017 secured a $217 million plaintiffs’ verdict in In re Syngenta AG MIR162 Corn Litigation, which preceded a $1.51 billion settlement for farmers around the country in 2018. She also was on the trial team that won three successive verdicts for rice farmers in the genetically modified rice litigation that ultimately led to a $750 million settlement for rice farmers.
Jason Sapp’s primary practice is in the areas of complex business and commercial litigation as well as consumer and class action litigation.
He played an extensive role in the firm’s work that led to the $217 million plaintiffs’ verdict and the $1.51 billion settlement in the Syngenta corn case as well as the $750 million Bayer contaminated rice settlement.
Another key member of the GRG agriculture litigation team that obtained the $1.51 billion Syngenta GMO corn settlement and the $750 million Bayer contaminated rice settlement, Kaitlin Bridges is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions Plaintiffs. She was named the Best Lawyers 2018 St. Louis Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Plaintiffs “Lawyer of the Year.”
Cort VanOstran and Jack Downing
Rounding out the Gray, Ritter & Graham agriculture litigation team are Cort VanOstran and Jack Downing.
Cort VanOstran focuses his practice on commercial litigation, class actions, and mass torts. He earned his undergraduate degree with honors from Harvard University, and his J.D. with honors from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
Jack Downing is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law. He is a 2019 recipient of an “Up and Coming” award from Missouri Lawyers Weekly. “Up & Coming” recipients are attorneys under the age of 40, or who have less than 10 years of experience, recognized for their professional skill and community service.
Here is a recap of the firm’s history with the pending dicamba litigation:
- DOWNING INTERVIEWED REGARDING FATE OF FUTURE DICAMBA DRIFT LAWSUITS
- GRG ACCEPTING FARMERS’ DICAMBA DAMAGE CASES
- GRAY, RITTER & GRAHAM FILES DICAMBA CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT ON BEHALF OF MISSOURI FARMERS
- GRAY, RITTER & GRAHAM FILES ANTITRUST CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST MONSANTO IN CONNECTION WITH ITS DICAMBA-BASED CROP SYSTEM
- DOWNING INTERVIEWED ON MISSOURI DICAMBA CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
- DOWNING NAMED CHAIR OF PLAINTIFFS’ EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IN DICAMBA MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION
- DOWNING, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE FILE TWO NEW MASTER COMPLAINTS IN DICAMBA LITIGATION
Media Coverage of Bader Farm Dicamba Trial
Johnathan Hettinger has covered the Bader Farm dicamba lawsuit for the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
Here are links to his reporting on the trial:
Dicamba Crop Damage Claim? Contact Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C.
If you or anyone you know has experienced any dicamba damage, please contact Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. We would be happy to evaluate your case at no charge to you. If we ultimately take your case, we would do so on a contingent-fee basis with no out-of-pocket payment by you. Any payment to us would be out of the recovery we obtain for you.
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