- U.S. corn farmers still have time to file their lawsuits against Syngenta.
- The proper settlement value of these cases is not likely to be determined before the parties try a series of test cases, or bellwether cases, to set the settlement value of these cases.
- Even after bellwether cases are tried, it still will be in Syngenta’s best interest to wait until the statutes of limitations in major corn states have expired.
- It will likely take until the later part of 2017 before the settlement pressure is intense enough to cause Syngenta to attempt to settle these cases across the U.S.There is Still Time for Farmers to File Their Claims Against Syngenta
In Order to Place an Appropriate Value on the Corn Litigation Cases Against Syngenta, the courts Will Conduct a Series of Bellwether Cases
The cases are not likely to settle until the parties can agree on an appropriate value for them. This requires the parties to determine first whether Syngenta’s actions caused damages to the farmers, and second, to determine how much of that damage Syngenta is legally responsible for. To do so will require the parties to conduct trials in a number of test cases, or bellwether cases. The bellwether process is a mechanism whereby the parties can try a handful of cases in an effort to get a snapshot of what juries think about the liability and damages claims put forth by the plaintiffs. In mass tort cases involving thousands of plaintiffs’ claims, it is usually necessary to try a number of bellwether cases first – so that the parties have a basis to ascertain the settlement value of the individual cases. With discovery needed to get the liability cases ready for trial, and with experts needed to opine about the damages caused, it is likely that trials will not begin until late 2016 or early 2017.
Defendants in Major Mass Tort Litigations Typically Wait Until the Statute of Limitation Runs Before Talking Settlement
Even after bellwether cases are tried, it still will be in Syngenta’s best interest to wait until the statute of limitations in major corn producing states have expired. There are over 440,000 corn farmers in the United States, growing corn on more than 88 million acres of farmland. Every statute of limitations that expires means that Syngenta will not have to pay the farmers who have failed to timely file their claims. Consequently, defendants in major mass tort litigations typically wait until the statute of limitations in major states expire so that they may put a fence around their total liability, and better ascertain what a particular settlement offer will cost the company in total. As a result, it will likely be at least well into 2017 before Syngenta begins talking settlement.
* 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.