Court dismisses several counts against Monsanto, BASF in soybean farmers' case over allegedly damaged crops

By Charmaine Little | Feb 15, 2019

CAPE GIRARDEAU – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in the Southern District weighed in on a 94-count case and granted in part and denied in part the defendants Monsanto and BASF Corp. motions to dismiss on Feb. 6.

The plaintiffs are 21 soybean farmers hailing from Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Tennessee. They allege their soybean crop was damaged by the herbicide dicamba after nearby farmers planted dicamba-resistant seeds and sprayed the crops. 

The court dismissed the class action claims against BASF citing personal jurisdiction since it’s not based in Missouri. 

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs allege the defendants sought to make a profit by using certain herbicides and misrepresenting them as safe, knowing that non-dicamba-resistant crops would be damaged. They filed the lawsuit and the defendants responded with a motion to dismiss. 

The defendants alleged the plaintiffs didn’t properly plead that Monsanto’s actual product caused the injuries. It also said the plaintiffs didn’t meet the requirements to state a claim under the Lanham Act.

On top of dismissing the class action claims against BASF, the court also dismissed the strict liability-ultrahazardous activity counts. 

"Ultimately, plaintiffs’ claim is that 'lying' about the safety of an ultrahazardous activity—the spraying of dicamba—is itself an ultrahazardous activity. That claim is certainly actionable, but not under the ultrahazardous activity doctrine," the ruling states.

The court also dismissed the trespass counts, stating that “as with the ultrahazardous claim, plaintiffs ask this court to extend the several states’ laws to reach beyond the traditional purview of the claim. This court declines to do so.”

The court also dismissed the nuisance counts but denied the motion to dismiss the conspiracy counts in part considering they are related to intentional torts, and the current court withholds ruling on conspiracy counts concerning underlying negligence claims.

The court also dismissed the failure to warn counts and the allegations surrounding the Nebraska Consumer Protection Act. It dismissed the Kansas warranty-related counts and the breach of implied warranty counts in Arkansas, South Dakota and Tennessee.

U.S. Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. ruled on the case.

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