Is There Financial Risk to Farmers Filing Suit Against Syngenta?
IS THERE ANY FINANCIAL RISK TO THE FARMER WHO FILES SUIT AGAINST SYNGENTA
FOR ITS ACTIONS CAUSING THE DROP IN CORN PRICES?
- We will pay all the costs for this litigation, and our farmers owe us nothing for expenses or fees if we are unsuccessful.
- Our contingency fee arrangement calls for a 60-40 split in the event of a settlement, a standard fee in major litigation.
- We will repay our expenses out of our 40%; the farmer is guaranteed 60% of the total recovery.
- Syngenta’s website makes it clear that it will not file counterclaims against farmers suing Syngenta.
Is there any financial risk to the farmer who files suit against Syngenta? The answer is “No.”
First, all the costs for this litigation are to be borne by our law firm. Those costs are considerable. More than 2,500 lawsuits were filed in Minnesota state courts at a cost of $400 apiece, before we began “batch filing” them in groups of 80 or 90 plaintiffs per case. Our firm paid those filing fees. We will pay for the costs of doing discovery, and taking depositions. We will pay for the costs of hiring and paying experts that will be needed to prove this case against Syngenta. We will pay for the costs of taking depositions in this case, and for all costs in trying these cases. The farmer will pay for nothing. Should we be unsuccessful, no farmer will receive a bill from us asking for payment for our lost time, or our lost dollars in funding an unsuccessful litigation. We do not believe this will happen; if it does, you owe us nothing.
Second, if we are successful – as we were in the genetically-modified rice litigation that settled for $750 million – our deal with you is simple. Only you can approve a settlement of your lawsuit against Syngenta. If you agree to settle, for every ten dollars we recover, you will be guaranteed six dollars, and we will take four dollars to repay our expenses, and whatever remains from that four dollars will be divided between the attorneys working on your case in the percentages set forth in the contract that you sign. In sum, it’s a 60-40 deal – you keep 60%; we use the remaining 40% to repay the expenses, and to pay ourselves a fee for our successful resolution of your case.
Third, it is important to reiterate that the expenses are repaid out of our 40% share. This is unusual, but we felt it important to guarantee our clients 60% of their gross recovery. In the genetically-modified rice lawsuit settled for $750 million dollars, our firm and our partner firms spent over $4 million in costs. Here, we anticipate spending more than $10 million, since this case involves far more corn farmers than the number of rice farmers involved there. Because of the huge number of corn farmers to be involved in this case, we feel comfortable that our total expenses will be very low per farmer, and therefore, are absorbing those expenses from our 40% share.
Fourth, despute rumors of Syngenta considering counterclaims against parties filing suit against it, this will not happen. First, many states provide absolute protection against suit by Syngenta, since filing suit against it in the first place is exercising a constitutional right under the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution. Second, Syngenta has announced on its website as of March 24, 2015 that it will not file countersuits against parties that sue Syngenta. This is just and right, and Syngenta is to be commended for this statement.
In sum, there is no financial risk to the farmer who files suit against Syngenta. Instead, that farmer has an absolute right to pursue his or damages against Syngenta for its questionable conduct that cost American corn farmers billions of dollars.
Mikal C. Watts