Rice FieldA historic settlement has been achieved in a lawsuit against Bayer Cropscience on behalf of more than 2,500 rice farmers, the majority of whom, harvest American Long Grain rice in Arkansas.

The $750 million settlement was announced on July 1, 2011 [view Settlement Agreement], by Bayer Cropscience. The lawsuits that culminated in the settlement were filed as a result of the corruption of farmers’ crops by a genetically engineered strain of rice produced by the Bayer Cropscience.

“Our clients and other rice farmers were devastated by the loss of markets around the world,” states Scott Powell, lead counsel with Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton. “The markets are still depressed due to the contamination.  As a consequence the American rice farmers have lost hundreds of millions of dollars.  This settlement is crucial to the survivability of many rice growing farms and families in this country.”

Farmers immediately began the process of gathering documentation regarding their losses in order to prepare legal action to recover their considerable losses. Six bellwether trials were held in federal and state courts in 2010, all resulting in favorable decisions for the plaintiffs. Scott Powell was lead counsel in a test case tried in Lonoke County, Arkansas, resulting in a $48 million verdict for the farmers.

“The jury’s decision in the Lonoke trial, as well the other trials, played a significant role in convincing Bayer it was in its best interest to conclude this litigation and pay the farmers what they are owed,” says Powell.

The next step in the settlement process is the preparation and filing of claims. The rice farmers should expect to begin receiving compensation in November of this year.

“It is a tremendous privilege and honor to represent people who make up the backbone of America,” states Powell. “To do something positive for them in the face of the devastation they endured humbles me tremendously and makes me proud to have had the opportunity to be their lawyer.”
Powell adds, “The success of this case was a result of a working partnership with the law firms of Gray, Ritter & Graham of St. Louis, Missouri; Neblett, Beard & Arsenault of Alexandria, Louisiana; Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz of Chicago, Illinois; and Looper Reed & McGraw of Dallas, Texas.”