ST. LOUIS – Simmons Hanly Conroy, one of the nation’s largest mass torts firms representing consumers, is pleased to announce Kansas corn growers have won a $217.7 million verdict against Syngenta, the world’s largest crop chemicals company, in the first class action trial concerning the company’s premature launch of its genetically modified corn seed Agrisure Viptera. The jury verdict was announced Friday and is one of several state class actions organized through the multidistrict litigation (MDL), In re Syngenta MIR162 Corn litigation.
Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Jayne Conroy, who serves on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the Syngenta MIR 162 MDL, heralded the verdict as a great result not only for Kansas corn producers, but farmers and exporters nationwide.
“The jury awarded exactly the amount the class requested in compensatory damages, which sends a strong message to Syngenta and other GMO companies that they have to exercise care in how they launch their products,” she said.
After a 3-week trial, the jury sided with corn producers who claimed Swiss-based Syngenta prematurely launched its genetically modified corn strain Agrisure Viptera – before it was approved for export to China. In 2013, with the strains still not approved in China, Chinese officials began rejecting all U.S. corn exports when the unapproved genetic trait in Viptera – MIR162 – was found to have contaminated U.S. corn shipments. The moratorium caused a collapse in the global price of corn and severely damaged multiple types of U.S. businesses related to the corn industry. Nationwide, losses to U.S. corn growers due to the loss of the Chinese market are estimated to exceed $5 billion, according to the lawsuits.
In August 2014, Simmons Hanly Conroy brought one of the first GMO corn lawsuits against Syngenta on behalf of Illinois-based grain exporter, Trans Coastal Supply Company, Inc., which was forced into bankruptcy after China rejected millions of dollars of its corn exports.
“Not a single one of our clients impacted by Syngenta’s actions got into corn farming to become rich. They are second, third generation farmers who operate family-owned, mid-sized business and have suffered substantial losses,” Conroy said. “We are committed to helping them recover and stay in the business of growing and selling corn.”
The trial began June 5 and was heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas before Judge John Lungstrom. The other certified class action cases involve Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota corn producers and will proceed as part of the MDL. Numerous other state and federal lawsuits in this matter are approaching trial and are expected to proceed in upcoming months.
The case is In Re: Syngenta AG MIR 162 Corn Litigation, 14-md-02591, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas (Kansas City).
About Simmons Hanly Conroy, LLC
Simmons Hanly Conroy is one of the nation’s largest mass tort law firms. Primary areas of litigation include asbestos and mesothelioma, pharmaceutical, consumer protection, environmental and personal injury. The firm’s attorneys have been appointed to leadership in numerous national multidistrict litigations, including Vioxx, Toyota Unintended Acceleration, BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, DePuy Pinnacle and the Volkswagen Emission Scandal. The firm also represents small and mid-size corporations, inventors and entrepreneurs in matters involving business litigation. Offices are located in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Alton, Ill. Read more at www.simmonsfirm.com.
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