The Minnesota Supreme Court has approved a Norman County (Minn.) jury award and judgment of $56 million against New Jersey-based BASF Corp. for reportedly defrauding United States’ farmers in the sale of a herbicide in a national class action suit.
After a five week trial that concluded on Dec. 6, 2001 a jury unanimously found that BASF committed consumer fraud in the sale of Poast herbicide sold in all 50 states from 1992-96.
In a March 11, 2003 ruling the Minnesota Court of Appeals – an intermediate appellate court – also upheld the jury verdict and judgment for farmers.
Trial evidence reportedly established that BASF defrauded thousands of farmers by marketing the same herbicide as different products – Poast and Poast Plus – at different prices as a “system of deceit” to extract inflated prices for the same herbicide from minor crop farmers.
BASF’s appeal of the jury verdict attracted national attention from business stalwarts. Submitting “friend of the court” briefs to the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of BASF were U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Independent Insurers, American Tort Reform Association, CropLife America, National Association of Manufacturers and American Chemistry Council, Product Liability Advisory Council, and Washington Legal Foundation.
The State of Minnesota, through Attorney General Mike Hatch, American Sugarbeet Growers’ Association, Minnesota Farmers Union, and Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association, joined the appellate fray with “friend of the court” briefs on behalf of farmers.
BASF reportedly threatens to continue its appeal of the jury verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 11 Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota farmers who represent the Class will reportedly do a pro rata distribution of the jury’s “common fund” damage award to injured farmers across the United States who can be located and submit claims.
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