Bayer Pays $750 Million to Settle Rice Contamination Cases

July 5, 2011

Bayer A.G. and its global affiliates have agreed to pay U.S. rice farmers $750 million in damages to settle lawsuits stemming from contamination of the nation’s rice crop in 2006 by Bayer’s genetically modified Liberty Link rice.

The settlement covers all U.S. long grain rice producers who planted rice between 2006 and 2010.

The settlement ends four years of litigation. The first lawsuit on behalf of the rice farmers was filed in September 2006. Eventually, all the lawsuits were combined in a federal multi-district litigation involving more than 11,000 rice farmers, exporters, importers, mills, and dealers from five southern states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas.

The farmers won six jury trial verdicts against Bayer and have been awarded millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.

The settlement calls for payments to farmers from one or more of three different funds, or “pots,” depending on the amount of their losses.

In order for the settlement to take effect, farmers who planted at least 85% of the average number of planted acres of rice in the U.S. from 2006 to 2009, must agree to participate in the settlement and must file claim forms within 90 days of the settlement. If the 85% threshold is not met, Bayer can walk away from the settlement.

Source: Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz

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