Lawyers in individual actions against Syngenta’s corn without fraud

Lawyers in individual actions against Syngenta’s corn without fraud

Law firms and attorneys who represented individual corn growers who sued Syngenta are exempt from charges alleging they failed to advise plaintiffs of the benefits of class proceedings, a ruling Tuesday the tenth circuit.

Kellogg Farms and other corn growers have chosen to sue Syngenta individually for alleged mixing of genetically modified corn seed products, while other corn growers have chosen to sue in a class action. Kellogg’s plaintiffs sued their attorneys, including Watts Guerra LLP, for allegedly causing excessive legal fees and class action exclusions with their counsel.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas dismissed the lawsuit, in part because Kellogg’s farmers were allowed to participate in the class settlement, eliminating any potential harm.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tench Circuit upheld that decision, rejecting the Kellogg Farmers’ view that the presence of factual harm should only be considered at the outset of the lawsuit. . A controversy “must persist throughout the litigation”, specifies the opinion.

“The matter or controversy over the RICO fraud and common law allegations ended when Kellogg Farmers settled with Syngenta,” the panel wrote. “The District Court therefore did not err in reviewing the settlement, even though it occurred after the Kellogg Farmers sued their former attorneys.”

The Appeals Panel further ruled that while there was factual prejudice for the purposes of a breach of trust claim, the District Court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing that claim. as punishment for refusing to accept several court orders. .

The appeals court also upheld the lower court’s decision to impose monetary penalties on Kellogg’s farmers for discovery and planning failures, and ruled that claims against seven law firms that helped their lawyers had failed because there was no attorney-client relationship.

Judge Robert E. Bacharach wrote the opinion, which was joined by Judges Harris L. Hartz and Veronica S. Rossman.

The Plaintiffs are represented by Douglas J. Nill. Defendants are represented by Thompson, Coe, Cousins ​​& Irons LLP.

The case is Kellogg vs. Watts Guerra10th Cir., No. 20-03172, 7/26/22.

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