A joint stipulation of dismissal with prejudice was filed recently in the Syngenta corn lawsuit regarding claims made between Syngenta and Express Grain Terminal LLC (Express Grain).
The stipulation pertains only to the claims made between the two groups, said lawyers in the agreement.
“Plaintiff/third-party defendant Express Grain Terminal LLC and defendants/third-party plaintiffs Syngenta AG; Syngenta Crop Protection AG; Syngenta Corporation; Syngenta Crop Protection LLC; Syngenta Biotechnology Inc and Syngenta Seeds Inc hereby stipulate and agree that all claims between these entities are hereby dismissed in their entirety with prejudice,” they wrote in the case document.
Additionally, both sides have agreed to pay their own costs, attorney fees and expenses.
The form of agreement is not unusual, said Elizabeth Rumley, senior staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center.
Many times the process is used either when a case is settled, or in relation to particular issues in a case, she told FeedNavigator. In this instance, it does not appear there was a settlement, but a move to focus on other aspects of the case.
That the agreement or stipulation was filed “with prejudice” means that the specific claims covered cannot be refiled, she said.
Express Grain had been a part of both a lawsuit against Syngenta and had filed a motion to dismiss counterclaims and third-party complaints from Syngenta, said group lawyers in case documents. Those cases also involve Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) and Rail Transfer, Inc.
The original case was brought against Syngenta after the company sold a form of genetically engineered corn seed, Viptera, in the US, said group lawyers. The corn was approved for sale in the US, but had yet to be approved for import into China – a major market for the US.
The companies brought lawsuits alleging that Syngenta’s sale of the genetically-modified corn seed in the US led to millions in losses after China refused imports with the strain.
When most of the arguments in that case were permitted to move forward by Judge John Lungstrum in the US District Court for the District of Kansas, Syngenta filed a counterclaim against the companies involved.
The countersuit alleges that if there is a responsibility to protect the US corn industry against biotech corn that was not approved for an export market, then such onus was not on Syngenta.
“If any such duty exists, the duty properly falls most squarely on the shoulders of the actors in the industry who actually accomplish the commingling that disperses a GM trait in the corn supply — namely, on the grain elevators, shippers, and exporters who commingle commodity corn together,” they said.
The Switzerland-based company also said that those companies could be liable to Syngenta for the claims being made, lawyers said.
However, Cargill, ADM, Express Grain and Rail Transfer Inc then responded with a request to have the Syngenta counterclaim dismissed earlier this year.
The allegations ought to be discounted because the claims are preempted by the US Warehouse act and the US Grain Standards Act, group lawyers said. And Syngenta cannot establish duty, they said.
“Syngenta cannot use its contribution and indemnity claims to impose a state-law duty on any third-party defendant to inspect export-bound grain for Viptera or Duracade,” they said. “Those claims too are expressly preempted and must be dismissed.”
As regards Express Grain Terminal, the claims should be dismissed because they were improperly asserted in states where the company has no contacts – the company only works in Mississippi, said its attorneys.
“Accordingly, the only potentially viable third-party claims that Syngenta has asserted against Express Grain are the Mississippi-law indemnity claims it brings in the lawsuits transferred from Mississippi federal court to the federal MDL [multi-district litigation],” said group lawyers. “Because those claims fail under Mississippi law, Syngenta’s third-party claims against Express Grain must be dismissed in their entirety.”