ST. LOUIS — U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. on April 13 granted in part and denied in part BASF’s motion to dismiss a case involving the company’s liability for planting seeds that were not responsive to certain herbicides.
The case, heard in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, involved the claim of a Missouri farmer against a Monsanto company and raises the question of which came first: Did the problem arise from planting the wrong seed or not having the proper related herbicide to use?
Bill Bader, owner of Bader Farms said that Monsanto and BASF Corp. had “conspired to create an ecological disaster,” according to the ruling. He claimed that Monsanto had released its dicamba-tolerant seed in 2015 and 2016 with no dicamba herbicide. This resulted in farmers illegally spraying an old version of dicamba herbicide that was not approved for spraying in-crop and over-the-top, and it was prone to drift to other areas, he claimed.
As a result, this damaged neighboring crops, and owners of adjoining acreage were forced to plant Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant seed as a defense, Bader claimed. That, in turn, required spraying with the new dicamba herbicide during the 2017 growing season because the old formula wouldn’t work in this application.
Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr.
The judge didn’t see things the same way. Limbaugh dismissed the charges that sought to hold BASF liable for 2015 and 2016 crop damage. As stated in the ruling, the following claims of the Plaintiffs were dismissed: strict liability-design defect, strict liability-failure to warn, negligent design and marketing, negligent failure to warn and negligent training. However, Limbaugh said that the plaintiffs could still pursue claims against BASF over alleged 2017 damage.
The judge also ruled that “Plaintiffs may bring counts for trespass, civil conspiracy, and punitive damages against BASF for alleged 2015, 2016, and 2017 damage.” He ended by saying, “Plaintiffs’ fraudulent concealment count is dismissed entirely."
“Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that Defendant BASF’s Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part. It is further ordered that Plaintiff’s Count VI for fraudulent concealment is dismissed. It is further ordered that Plaintiff’s Counts 1 through V that seek to hold BASF liable for 2015 and 2016 damage are dismissed,” Limbaugh wrote.