A jury in St. Louis, the first to hear one of more than 1,000 cases against Bayer CropScience, has returned a verdict in favor of two farmers for past and future economic losses. The case involved the mixing of a modified rice seed with their crops. The trial begins a series of four test cases involving rice farmers in five states. A second trial was underway in the same federal court in St. Louis. The test cases will give both sides a sense of whether jurors will find Bayer CropScience liable and what damages they will award if they do. The jury in the St. Louis federal court awarded $1.9 million to Kenneth Bell and $53,000 to Johnny Hunter. No punitive damages were awarded in the case.
After traces of biotech rice were found in shipments of commercial long-grain rice in 2006, the European Union and some other foreign markets shunned United States long-grain rice imports. That gave rise to the lawsuits filed by rice farmers over depressed rice prices and the alleged contamination of land, seed and equipment. Six thousand rice producers in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and 30 to 40 rice industry businesses filed lawsuits after traces of Bayer’s Liberty Link, a genetically modified rice variety, were discovered in long-grain rice supplies.
According to jurors’ comments after the verdict, it didn’t take them long to find Bayer negligent. But they spent a long time figuring out which of the seven different Bayer entities that had been sued were liable. Finally, all the entities were found to be liable, including German-based Bayer AG, the parent company. The Plaintiffs were represented by Don Downing and Gretchen Garrison of Gray, Ritter & Graham in St. Louis; Grant Davis of Davis, Bethune & Jones in Kansas City, Mo.; and Bill Chaney of Looper, Reed & McGraw in Dallas. They all did a very good job in the case.
Source: Lawyers USA Online
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