Monsanto Company has entered into a settlement agreement with soft white wheat farmers in the Pacific Northwest that resolves a number of lawsuits related to the May 2013 discovery of genetically-modified wheat on a farm in Eastern Oregon and subsequent temporary limits on certain exports of soft white wheat. Under the settlement and without any admission of liability, Monsanto has agreed to pay:
- a total of $250,000 to wheat growers’ associations, including $100,000 to the National Wheat Foundation, and $50,000 each to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, the Oregon Wheat Growers’ League, and the Idaho Grain Producers’ Association; and
- $2.125 million into a settlement fund, which will be designated to pay farmers in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho who sold soft white wheat between May 30, 2013 and November 30, 2013.
“Rather than paying the costs of protracted litigation, this agreement puts that money to work in research and development efforts for the wheat industry, while providing a negotiated level of compensation for farmers with documented soft white wheat sales from May 30 to November 30, 2013,” said Kyle McClain, Monsanto chief litigation counsel. “Resolution in this manner is reasonable and in the best interest of all of the parties.”
The claims administrator designated by the parties, Heffler Claims Group, will process the submission of claims by farmers who choose to make claims. Soft white wheat farmers seeking a claim form or more information about the claims process can contact Heffler Claims Group at 855-229-7512 or submit claims through the website www.swwsettlement.com.
In the event that any portion of the settlement fund remains after claims are paid, up to $250,000 of the remainder will be added as donations to the wheat associations listed above. As part of the resolution of these claims, Monsanto will also reimburse plaintiffs’ counsel for a portion of their out-of-pocket costs and fees associated with this litigation.
One of the attorneys for the farmers, James Pizzirusso of Hausfeld LLP in Washington, D.C., noted, “We believe this is a unique and fair mechanism for resolving the claims of soft white wheat farmers.” “We are pleased to end this litigation expeditiously with a reasonable recovery for our clients,” added co-counsel, Kim Stephens of Tousley Brain Stephens PLLC in Seattle, Washington. Co-counsel Erin Green Comite of Scott+Scott, Attorneys at Law, LLP, in Colchester, Connecticut, commented, “The settlement fairly and equitably resolves our clients’ claims and benefits the soft white wheat industry as well.”
This settlement will not resolve claims that remain pending by wheat growers who grew a type of wheat other than soft white wheat.
The following class action lawsuits will be dismissed, with prejudice, as a result of the settlement agreement:
- Behrend, Behrend & Knittel Farms, et al. v. Monsanto Company, MDL No. 2473; Case No. 13 md-2473-KHV; D. Kan. No. 13-2545-KHV;
- Ediger v. Monsanto Company, MDL No. 2473; Case No. 13-md-2473-KHV; D. Kan. No. 13-2562-KHV; and
- Dreger land Company, Inc., et al. v. Monsanto Company, MDL No. 2473; Case No. 13-md-2473-KHV; D. Kan. No. 13-2554-KHV.