Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Decision in Favor of Taft Clients in Case Relating to Syngenta Corn Litigation

On July 26, 2022, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a victory for Taft’s clients, four lawyer and law firm defendants, in a case relating to Syngenta corn litigation.

The underlying dispute dates back to 2014, when corn farmers and others in the corn industry began filing lawsuits, including class actions, against Syngenta over the company’s marketing of two insect-resistant genetically modified corn seed products, Viptera and Duracade, without securing approval from China, a major market for U.S. growers, according to court documents.

A number of the farmers brought malpractice claims against our client law firms and other law firm defendants in April 2018, alleging fourteen counts in their complaint, including allegations that the law firms perpetrated a scheme whereby the plaintiffs would effectively pay attorney fees twice and also allegations that they were wrongfully excluded from the class actions in the Syngenta litigation by attorneys who chose instead to pursue individual lawsuits.  All of these allegations were denied by the defendant law firms.

The suits were consolidated in multidistrict litigation in Kansas. Taft litigated for several years with the plaintiffs’ attorney there, eventually obtaining summary judgment and a dismissal of all counts, as well as an award of attorneys’ fees. 

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision to dismiss the case and affirmed the award of attorneys’ fees.

The Taft team consisted of Commercial Litigation attorneys John Degnan, Kathryn Short, and Adam Chandler.

Degnan is a partner in Taft’s Minneapolis office. He is an accomplished trial lawyer, arbitrator and mediator who has handled more than 100 jury trials. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Short is a partner in Taft’s Commercial Litigation practice, where she serves as the Minneapolis co-chair. She has experience in general business litigation, including construction, employment, and transportation-related matters.

Chandler is an associate in Taft’s Minneapolis office. He represents individual and corporate clients in various corporate/commercial disputes, including matters involving corporate governance, shareholder and partnership disputes, and general contract claims.

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