According to a news source, three days after trial began in a lawsuit brought by Texas rice farmers over losses they allegedly sustained when the price for U.S. long-grain rice plunged on global markets after it was discovered that conventional crops were contaminated with a genetically modified (GM) seed, the parties settled the case. In re Genetically Modified Rice Litig., MDL No. 1811 (U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. Mo., settled October 15, 2010). While continuing to main tain that it was not negligent, defendant Bayer CropScience has apparently indicated that it has been willing to settle the claims “on reasonable terms” and was “pleased to be able to do so in this instance.”
The Texas bellwether cases, consolidated with thousands of others before a multidistrict litigation court (MDL), reportedly involved three growers claiming some $430,000 in damages and unspecified punitive damages. The growers settled for $290,000, according to CropScience CEO Bill Buckner. The company has lost three trials in federal court and three in state court, all involving similar claims and all on appeal or undergoing review by post-trial motion. The total damages awarded to date exceed $50 million, including $42.5 in punitive damages. The settlement will not affect the remaining 6,000 claims. See Bloomberg, October 18, 2010.