May 15, 2018: By now you have probably heard that a settlement has been reached with Syngenta over the losses it caused corn farmers, and others, by commercializing the Viptera and Duracade traits prior to receiving approval from China, which caused a massive trade disruption, ultimately resulting in China’s decision to reject all US shipments of corn into that country.
We have diligently pursued the claims against Syngenta on behalf of our clients through the taking of almost 100 depositions, the review of millions of pages of documents, the hiring of experts in the field, and arguing numerous motions before the court in the Southern District of Illinois, which is where most of our cases were filed. Other litigation was going on in the District Court of Kansas, as well as state court cases in Minnesota. Collectively, all this litigation against Syngenta over the course of a few years resulted in a national settlement of $1.5 Billion.
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This entire litigation has been settled as a national class action. If you are a corn producer who has reported his or her corn production to the USDA using the FSA-578 form, you should receive what is called a Notice of Class Action Settlement around mid-May 2018. It is IMPORTANT that you read this information carefully. This notice will come to you from the Court overseeing the class action settlement, the United States District Court in Kansas. This notice should go out to all eligible corn farmers. This notice will explain everything about the settlement, how you might be able to file a claim for settlement benefits, the deadline for filing claims, how you can exclude yourself from the settlement, and other important information. We urge you to read this carefully, even though it will be a long and complicated document.
When you receive the notice, you will also find a claim form attached.
YOU WILL NOT GET ANY MONEY FROM THIS SETTLEMENT UNLESS YOU COMPLETE A CLAIM FORM
We cannot say it any more clearly than that. If you want to recover anything in this deal, you must fill out the claim form, and it must be filled out completely. If you wish to file a claim in this settlement, you must do so by October 12, 2018. Again, the notice will explain the claim form in detail, and should answer any questions you have about it, for example that the FSA 578 form(s) you have filed will govern the number of acres during the marketing years 2013-2018 that you can claim in the settlement, what you can do if you believe the FSA 578 form was incorrect at any point for the 2013-2017 marketing years, etc.
It is also important to know that, at this point, we have no idea how much any corn producers will receive in this class action settlement. In fact, we have no role whatsoever in how much any corn producers will receive in the settlement. All of that is governed by the master class action settlement agreement that will be overseen by the attorneys involved in the class action settlement and claims administrators appointed by the District Court of Kansas. The final number will not be known until every claim has been submitted. We do know that none of the money in the settlement (the $1.5 Billion) will be returned to Syngenta, so all money that will be available to corn farmers, and others covered under the settlement, will divided up among all the eligible farmers, and others covered by the settlement, who have filed claims.
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This settlement is voluntary. You do not have to take it. If you choose to do so, you can exclude, or “opt out” of the settlement. If you wish to opt out of the settlement, you must do so by August 10, 2018. You can then pursue your own lawsuit against Syngenta or any other responsible party. We currently have no plans to represent producers who wish to opt out of the settlement in any future litigation against Syngenta arising out of this matter. If you do not exclude yourself from the settlement, it will be binding on you, and whether you file a claim for settlement benefits or not, you will be releasing any claims against Syngenta you may have that arose out of its decision to commercialize Viptera and Duracade.
One last thing: Please pay attention to the deadlines in the notice you will be receiving. There will be a deadline to file your claim for settlement benefits. If you miss the deadline, you will most likely be unable to receive any money at all.
If you have any additional questions concerning the settlement, you may contact the settlement administrator via telephone at 1-833-567-CORN (1-833-567-2676), or write to them at:
Corn Seed Settlement Claims Administrator
P.O. Box 26226
Richmond, VA 23260.