A federal judge in Missouri has reprimanded a plaintiffs’ attorney involved in the genetically engineered (GE) rice multidistrict litigation for sending “false and misleading” letters about a recent settlement with Bayer CropScience “to landlords who were either unrepresented or who were represented by other counsel.” In re: Genetically Modified Rice Litig., MDL No. 1811 (U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. Mo., ordered July 20, 2011).
U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry apparently found that attorney Martin Phipps of Goldman, Pennebaker & Phipps violated the American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct and ordered him to (i) disclose to plaintiffs’ counsel information about landlords contacted and the firms representing them; (ii) send a “curative letter to all recipients of the June 2011 letters… [and] publish an advertisement in the Delta Farm Press correcting any misstatements in his earlier letters”; (iii) inquire, before opening communication, whether any rice farmer or rice farm landlord is already represented by counsel; and (iv) abstain from submitting “any consent or general release forms to the claims administrator that he obtained as a result of the June 2011 letters.” Additional details about the settlement with Bayer CropScience appear in Issue 401 of this Update.