ST. LOUIS — A class-action lawsuit brought by soybean farmers over the herbicide dicamba has been transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
U.S. District Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. of the Eastern District of Arkansas granted defendant Monsanto's motion to transfer on Sept. 15.
Monsanto, represented by attorneys at the Little Rock, Arkansas, firm Wright, Lindsey & Jennings, had argued that the agreed-upon forum in the parties' licensing agreement specifies that potential litigation would be heard in federal court in St. Louis
"The forum-selection provision in the parties' agreements is plain and clear," Marshall wrote in his order. "It's reasonable, not unconscionable."
Fourteen named plaintiffs, including Arkansas farmers and an applicator of herbicides, claim the use of dicamba in the 2016 growing season resulted in "significant harm" to soybeans in Arkansas and elsewhere, causing them to plant dicamba-tolerant seeds "in a defensive posture for the 2017 growing season."
"This led to significant monetary expenditure by the Plaintiffs, and other similarly situated persons, as a direct result of the irresponsible marketing and distribution of Dicamba herbicide," the suit states.
It further states that the use of dicamba in 2017 caused extensive damage to soybean and other crops.
"Dicamba has been subjected to restricted use and may be removed from the market by the Arkansas State Plant Board," the lawsuit states.
Plaintiffs claim they can no longer use the product because of its negative impact on surrounding crops; they also allege they will see a reduced yield due to the inability to use dicamba to fight harmful weeds.
A rebate offered by Monsanto in the 2017 season also is of no value because dicamba "has been or will be removed from the market," the plaintiffs claim.
"Plaintiffs and plaintiff applicators modified their spray rigs at great cost to apply Dicamba, but were not able to apply the Dicamba due to its harmful volatility," the suit says.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorney David A. Hodges of Little Rock.