Latest Updates in Farmers v. Monsanto Dicamba Lawsuits
As of November 2023, there were 31 pending Dicamba cases in multidistrict litigation in U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Missouri. Chief Jude Stephen R. Clark presides over MDL 2820.
In 2022, Bayer announced it would offer up to $400 million to settle dicamba lawsuits. Some individual cases have reached trial and Bayer may appeal these court decisions.
- September 2023: Separate from the MDL, but with potential to impact the dicamba litigation landscape, the Center for Biological Diversity announced a historic settlement in its Endangered Species Act lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The settlement commits the EPA to strengthen protections against 300 pesticide active ingredients, including dicamba.
- August 2023: New class-action suits may form as more farmers decide to sue the company over dicamba drift damage and negligence.
- May 2023: According to the Dicamba Soybean Grower Settlement website, there were no set dates for when settlement payments would commence. Farmers whose claims were rejected may appeal into early 2023.
- April 2023: Lawsuits accuse EPA of ignoring a 2020 court order that prohibited the use of dicamba-based herbicides.
Dicamba drift lawsuits from soybean farmers are still ongoing, but vineyard owners have filed separate dicamba lawsuits against Monsanto. In 2022, owners of more than 50 vineyards in California sued the makers of dicamba after drift from nearby cotton fields damaged 12,000 square miles of vineyards.
Plaintiffs allege that dicamba manufacturers knew that drift could ruin nearby crops but continued to push the use of the herbicide. They’re asking for more than $500 million in damages.
Bader Farms v. Monsanto
A federal jury awarded $265 million in damages to Bader Farms in 2020. The award covers two key areas: $15 million to cover damage to Bader Farm’s peach trees and $250 million in punitive damages. A jury awards punitive damages when they believe the defendant’s actions are particularly harmful. In this case, the plaintiff, Farmer Bill Bader, accused Monsanto of knowing the drift from dicamba was likely to damage nearby crops, even after reformulation, and the jury agreed.
Bayer, the current manufacturer of dicamba herbicide products, plans to continue selling its GM dicamba-resistant seeds and appealed the verdict. Federal court denied the appeal.
- July 2022: A federal court denies Bayer’s appeal and finds the company liable for damages to Bader Farm’s peach orchard.
- July 2020: Bayer hires a private investigator to visit Bader Farms to determine the accuracy of Bader's loss-of-profit claims. The private investigator finds that Bader Farms is still operational and selling peaches from its retail store; Bayer appeals the earlier verdict.
- February 2020: A federal jury in Missouri rules in favor of Bader Farms and awards the plaintiff $265 million in damages.
- January 2020: Monsanto responds to the Bader case by alleging that tested samples from Bader Farm's peach trees showed the trees had damage from other ailments and that dicamba did not cause the damage.
- November 2019: Bader sues Monsanto, the manufacturer of dicamba spray herbicide. Pre-trial hearings for Bader vs. Monsanto are scheduled to begin in early 2020.
- June 2016: Bader found 20,000 trees damaged allegedly because of dicamba spray drift.
- April 2015: Bill Bader first began to notice damage to 7,000 peach trees that he attributed to dicamba drift damage.
Missouri’s Bader Farms produced up to 6 million peaches in the years prior to 2016, across many acres of orchard. Bader averaged $4.3 million in peach and other crop sales annually. In 2015, he noticed damage to his peach trees that he attributed to dicamba drift and sued Monsanto for damages and loss of income.
Bader alleges the damage to his peach trees from dicamba drift cost him more than a million dollars in sales and hundreds of thousands in damaged tree restoration. Bader also stated that the dicamba damages would cost him $1 million in lost sales annually until 2022, as he waited for replacement trees to mature to bear fruit.
Bruce Farms v. Monsanto
The deadline has passed to join the Bruce Farms dicamba MDL. and some plaintiffs have left the MDL to sue independently in court. These cases, as well as the outcome of the MDL, are still pending.
Settlements for these cases could reach hundreds of millions of dollars. The verdicts in these cases may determine future litigation against companies that use unscrupulous marketing and sales tactics.
- January 2022: The final case joins the Bruce Farms MDL, and a settlement agreement is pending.
- June 2017: Lawyers combine the Bruce Farm's case with other farmer's cases and form an MDL.
- November 2016: Monsanto receives approval from the EPA for a new formula of dicamba weedkiller that is less likely to drift and cause crop damage.
- Summer 2016: Drift spray from the old formulation of dicamba damages surrounding crops.
- Spring 2016: Farmers plant new GM dicamba-resistant seeds, but many use the old dicamba formula because Monsanto has yet to receive approval for its new, less damaging one.
- 2015: Monsanto releases GM dicamba-resistant seeds within its "Xtend Crop System" intended for use with a new dicamba spray formula less likely to drift.
Monsanto had agreed in 2015 to provide a new dicamba formula that was unlikely to drift, making it safe to use on GM dicamba-resistant seed crops without affecting neighboring fields. In 2017, Bruce Farms brought claims against Monsanto on behalf of themselves and other farmers who alleged that Monsanto sold them GM dicamba-resistant seeds as part of a “crop system” that included the new weedkiller formulation but did not provide the reformulated product in time to use it on the new GM crops.
Farmers felt they had no choice but to use the older dicamba formula with the new crops, although laws restricted dicamba use to pre- and post-harvest. The drift from this usage damaged nearby crops. Bruce farms and other farmers combined suits into an MDL alleging that Monsanto knew farmers would apply old dicamba formulations to their GM crops because the company did not receive approval for its new formula until after they’d distributed their “crop system” GM seeds. The Bruce Farms MDL also alleges that Monsanto stood to profit from crops dicamba drift destroyed and encouraged the use of their GM dicamba-resistant seeds for that reason.
Warren Farms v. Monsanto
The Warren vs. Monsanto case initiated an MDL that will cost dicamba manufacturers hundreds of millions to settle. The MDL addresses concerns over how Monsanto marketed dicamba and its GM dicamba-resistant Xtend seeds.
It also requests an injunction against the sale of GM dicamba-resistant seeds. This litigation could prompt revisions to the laws around selling GM pesticide-resistant seeds in the U.S.
- June 2020: Monsanto agrees to pay $300 million to settle the claims brought in the MDL.
- February 2018: The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation agrees to combine 11 lawsuits filed against Monsanto for similar reasons into one MDL in Missouri.
- September 2017: Warren sues Monsanto and BASF on 10 counts, including punitive damages and coverage for past and future losses. Warren’s lawyer files an injunction to stop Bayer from selling GM seeds resistant to dicamba.
- June and July 2017: Brian Warren begins to notice damage to his crops that he alleged occurred because of dicamba spray drift.
Brian Warren, the owner of Warren Farms in Illinois, noticed dicamba drift damage to his crops in late spring 2017. Warren sued Monsanto for financial restitution for the crop damage and losses and the loss of future income because of a lack of seeds from damaged crops. Warren also claimed that Monsanto benefited from dicamba crop damage because those farmers would be more likely to use Monsanto’s GM dicamba-resistant seeds.
Warren also sued Monsanto and BASF for punitive damages related to their marketing and selling practices surrounding dicamba and filed an injunction against both companies to stop them from marketing GM Xtend seeds that can withstand high amounts of dicamba. Warren’s lawyer filed to consolidate his case and 11 other dicamba lawsuits in 4 states into one larger MDL in Missouri.
Why Are Dicamba Lawsuits Being Filed?
Farmers are filing dicamba lawsuits for multiple reasons, including seeking compensation for current and future damages to crops. Some suits also hold Monsanto accountable for misleading marketing and sales tactics and negligence.
- Intentionally ignored a known risk of dicamba drift crop damage when selling their GM Xtend seeds to farmers.
- Used misleading marketing practices and sales tactics.
- Were negligent in selling farmers GM dicamba-resistant Xtend seeds as part of a crop system requiring large amounts of dicamba without providing a safer dicamba formulation.
Monsanto dicamba drift lawsuits cover multiple aspects of the company’s marketing, sales and distribution of the weedkiller and its GM dicamba-resistant Xtend seeds. MDLs accuse the company of misleading sales and marketing tactics and have requested monetary amounts to cover crop damage.
- The Warren Farms MDL calls for an injunction to prevent Monsanto from marketing their GM Xtend seeds and their dicamba-based weedkiller along with the seeds.
- All lawsuits also call for restitution from Monsanto for dicamba drift crop damage, including future losses.
The Warren and Bruce Farms MDLs also accuse Monsanto of distributing their crop system without providing the promised new dicamba formula unlikely to cause drift damage. Lawyers for the MDLs allege that Monsanto knew the new formula wouldn’t be available and that farmers who purchased the system would use old dicamba formulas that were likely to cause drift damage.
Can I File a Dicamba Lawsuit?
Farmers and landowners can still file a dicamba lawsuit if they have had more than 100 acres of crops damaged from dicamba drift. Farmers are filing Monsanto dicamba lawsuits to receive compensation for crop damage, even future crops, and to hold Monsanto accountable for unfair marketing and sales tactics.
The first step to filing a dicamba lawsuit is contacting an experienced lawyer. Often, a legal representative will review your case for free and help you evaluate your claim. You will need to provide detailed information about your claim, including when the damage occurred and all uses of dicamba that you know about. If you can file a claim against Monsanto, your lawyer will provide you with next steps.
Additional Dicamba Litigation
Plaintiffs have also sued other entities over concerns with Monsanto’s dicamba and GM seeds. In some cases, Monsanto and Bayer have launched their own lawsuits in response to dicamba use and legislation.
Lawsuits also claim Monsanto pushed sales of dicamba and dicamba-resistant seeds because of expiring patents on its GM Roundup Ready seeds. These seeds grow into GM plants immune to the effects of the company’s best-selling glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer.
- Advocates Sue the EPA: The National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the legality of the agency’s registration of dicamba following a federal court order prohibiting its use.
- Bayer Sues Missouri Farmers: The company alleges four farmers illegally sprayed old versions of dicamba on their GM Xtend soybean crops after a warm-weather cutoff date and saved seeds from the GM plant crops. Some contend Bayer’s suit is an attempt to blame crop damage on illegal activity rather than increased dicamba use on GM dicamba-resistant crops.
- Monsanto Sues Arkansas: The company filed suit when the Arkansas Plant Board voted against allowing a 2017 dicamba reformulation into the state. In 2018 the courts ruled against Monsanto, but an appeal prompted the Arkansas Supreme Court in 2019 to make changes to the Plant Board’s membership while not invalidating any of the Board’s rulings.
In the Arkansas decision, the court didn’t invalidate Arkansas Plant Board rulings, but did find that nine members were appointed illegally. Members removed from the Plant Board represented Arkansas Seed Growers Association, Arkansas Agricultural Aviation Association, Arkansas Seed Dealers Association, Arkansas Pest Management Association, Arkansas Crop Protection Association, Arkansas Forestry Association, Arkansas State Horticultural Society, Arkansas Green Industry Association and Arkansas Oil Marketers Association.
26 Cited Research Articles
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