What is in this article?:
- Riceland wins historic award in GM rice case against Bayer.
- Case stems from 2006 discovery of trace amounts of GM traits in several U.S. rice varieties.
- Damages awarded may be subject to cap -- Arkansas Supreme Court to decide.
Premiums and tactics
On settlement “premiums”…
“Bayer actually said in trial that the settlements made to farmers were paid at a premium. The reason they wanted to say that is because they know there are thousands of farmer suits sitting out there. They don’t want those farmers thinking that’s the amount they’ll get, or are entitled to.
“So, they say they’ve paid a premium because they wanted the case to be solely between Bayer and Riceland. The only way to do that was to settle out with the farmers and pay them.
“That’s an interesting position for Bayer to take. Because even as they’re trying to settle all these other cases pending in the United States, they won’t be telling them they’ll pay that kind of money.
“So, they settled on the weekend before the trial started with the farmers. Then it was a straight-up case between Bayer and Riceland. Part of Bayer’s strategy was they believed they’d really be behind the 8-ball if they had both individual farmers in the suit along with Riceland – a kind of a double-team effort. They decided to eliminate the double-team.
On trial tactics…
“From a witness standpoint, Bayer has done the same thing in every case. They don’t bring any of their witnesses in to testify live. That required us to show video depositions of Bayer employees we had to go all around the world to take. They’re people are scattered all over the world. We’ve been to Singapore, London, Amsterdam, Germany, Belgium and all kinds of places. They have over 50 different people involved in the LibertyLink rice project.
“But Bayer would never bring (those employees) to a trial. They don’t want to put them in front of a jury. They don’t want to subject them to cross-examination at a trial in Arkansas.
“Other than the experts they pay to testify, the only Bayer witness that testified live in this case was their rice breeder in the United States.
“During Riceland’s part of the case, we ended up showing the testimony of the Bayer witnesses. That’s because most of it is favorable to us, showing the deficiencies they had in the LL rice program, what they were doing in field trials and their actions in dealing with GM rice.
“The witnesses for us were mainly Riceland people. They don’t really know about the liability aspects of the case because no one at Riceland knew what was going on at Bayer. Basically, we used the Bayer video depositions to be witnesses against themselves.”