- In the United States, corn is planted primarily beginning in April and finishing in early June, while it is harvested primarily beginning in mid October and finishing in late November
- Town hall meetings with farmers, that have been conducted continuously from late November through mid-April, will be discontinued once planting season has begun, and will resume in early June, after planting season ends. Such meetings likewise will be recessed during harvest season
- The work required to obtain necessary documents that will reveal corn bushel productivity can be done after the seed has been planted
- With respect to the handful of cases that are likely to be selected for test trials, or bellwether trials, care will be taken by the lawyers to ensure that no trials are scheduled during planting or harvest seasons
Lawyers with experience in agricultural litigation understand the importance of not allowing the lawsuit to interfere with the critical work being done during planting season and during harvest season. Crops around the world have their own unique production cycles. In the United States, corn is planted primarily beginning in April and finishing in early June, while it is harvested primarily beginning in mid October and finishing in late November. Thus, it is very important to our clients that no significant litigation activity be scheduled during the critical planting season and harvest season. Lawyers with experience in this area know this, and will ensure that no such schedule concerning the litigation will conflict with a farmer’s need to be working in the fields during planting and harvest seasons.
For example, many farmers are aware that town hall meetings with farmers have been conducted continuously since late-November, 2014. The purposes of these town hall meetings is to provide a public forum where farmers can come to a public meeting to gather the information they need in order to decide whether to participate in the litigation against Syngenta. The author and his joint venture partners have conducted a total of approximately 500 such meetings in 2015 alone. However, these town hall meetings with farmers that have been conducted continuously from late-November, 2014 through April 17, 2015 were discontinued once planting season began. On purpose, these town hall meetings will not resume until early-June, when planting season has ended. Likewise, these meetings will be scheduled only from June 1, 2015 until October 15, 2015, when the harvest season begins. The purpose of this town hall meeting schedule is to provide farmers and landlords with the information they need concerning the litigation they are hearing about, but to do so in a way that does not interfere with the primary task of planting and harvesting corn.
On a similar note, while farmers have been informed that they will need to assist their lawyers to preserve and collect the documents that will reveal corn bushel productivity, those documents need not be collected during heavy work times at the farm. We specifically have told our clients not to step off their planting equipment to go look for documents we need for their litigation. We have informed them to “put your seed in the ground; we can start collecting your documents after planting season.” A similar message will be communicated to farmers before harvest season as well.
While tens of thousands, or even more than 100,000, lawsuits are likely to be filed against Syngenta, the courts typically schedule only a handful of them for trial initially. This occurs in a process typical for mass tort cases, and is known as the “test trial process,” or the “bellwether trial process.” Courts schedule these cases for trial after conferring with attorneys representing litigants on both sides. Extreme care will be taken to ensure that neither depositions of farmers, nor their trials, occur during planting or harvest season.
In this way, farmers can be assured that their participation in this lawsuit against Syngenta will not interrupt their planting season, and will not interrupt their harvest season.
Mikal C. Watts
WATTS GUERRA, LLP
Four Dominion Drive, Bldg. Three, Suite 100
San Antonio, Texas 78257
* This information is provided to supply relevant information concerning the GMO corn lawsuit, and should not be received as legal advice. Legal advice is only given to persons or entities with whom Watts Guerra LLP has established an attorney-client relationship. If you have another lawyer in the GMO Corn lawsuit, you should consult with your own attorney, and rely upon his or her advice, rather