According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Agricultural Statistics Service (NAAS) October 10, 2014 report Crop Production, http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/crop1014.pdf, Minnesota was the number four corn producing state in the United States in 2014, with its corn farmers working over 8,150,000 acres of farmland to produce 1.326 billion bushels of corn, or 9.16% of all corn produced in the United States.
Statute of Limitations
Generally, Minnesota has a six-year statute of limitations. Section 541.05 provides for a six-year statute of limitations for various cases, including those for injuring property or causing a trespass upon real estate. M.S.A. § 541.05, Subd. 1. However, any action based on the strict liability of a defendant arising from the manufacture, sale, use or consumption of a product shall be commenced within four years. M.S.A. § 541.05, Subd. 2.
Minnesota farmers and grain elevators can file suit in the state courts of the county where their land is located, M.S.A. § 542.02, and where part of the cause of action arose. M.S.A. §542.09. Minnesota farmers may also file suit in Hennepin County, Minnesota, where Syngenta is based. M.S.A. § 542.09 (“in which one or more of the defendants reside when the action is begun.”).
Syngenta may not remove these GMO corn lawsuits to federal court based on diversity of citizenship between the parties because both parties are citizens of Minnesota, and because Syngenta has been sued in its home state, and the federal statute governing the “removal of civil actions,” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2), provides that “[a] civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of the jurisdiction under § 1332(a) of this title may not be removed if any of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought.” While Syngenta has sought to remove these cases anyway based on the federal common law of foreign relations, plaintiffs have filed a motion to remand back to state court, and expect that motion to be granted.
Minnesota farmers may also file suit in any federal court in Minnesota; however, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407(a)(“When civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in different districts, such actions may be transferred to any district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.”), such cases have been, and will continue to be transferred to Kansas City, Kansas, where Judge John W. Lungstrum is overseeing MDL 2591, In Re: Syngenta AG MIR162 Corn Litigation. Every federal court case in the country will be consolidated into this Kansas City MDL proceeding.
Thus, almost every case in the United States will be litigated in either Minnesota state court or in federal court in Kansas City. Our firm is choosing to file in the state court of Minnesota where our Minnesota clients’ land is located; however, upon specific request, we occasionally file a farmer’s claim in Hennepin County, Minnesota.
Choice of Law
GMO corn lawsuits brought by Minnesota farmers against Syngenta, a Minnesota corporation, will involve lawsuits between two Minnesota citizens; thus, Minnesota’s procedural and substantive law will surely apply to these cases.
* This information is provided to supply relevant information concerning the GMO corn lawsuit, and should not be received as legal advice. Legal advice is only given to persons or entities with whom Watts Guerra LLP has established an attorney-client relationship. If you have another lawyer in the GMO Corn lawsuit, you should consult with your own attorney, and rely upon his or her advice, rather than the information contained herein.