A total of 14 lawsuits against Monsanto arising from the discovery of genetically-modified wheat in an Oregon wheat field earlier this year have been transferred to the U.S. District Court for Kansas, and assigned to Magistrate Judge Karen M. Humphreys.
In May 2013, a farmer in eastern Oregon discovered Roundup Ready wheat growing in one of his fields, even though it is not commercially available and the field was never used as a test field for the product. The discovery caused quite a sensation, and was covered extensively by the media, such as in these pieces in the New York Times and on NPR. Initially, Japan and South Korea cut off their purchases of wheat from the Pacific Northwest.
Within a few months, both countries resumed their purchasing, after testing found no genetically-modified wheat in circulation. Nevertheless, several wheat farmers, as well as the Center for Food Safety, filed a number of class action lawsuits against Monsanto throughout the country. For ease of case management, those cases have now been transferred to a single courtroom in Kansas.
The cases are:
- Brown v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02310-KHV-KMH)
- Dreger Enterprises v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02537-KHV-KMH)
- Center for Food Safety v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02541-KHV-KMH)
- Rudolf Farm, LLC v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02543-KHV-KMH)
- Behrend, Behrend & Knittel Farms v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02545-KHV-KMH)
- Jeske v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02554-KHV-KMH)
- Little Omega Farms v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02557-KHV-KMH)
- Howard v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02559-KHV-KMH)
- Ediger v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02562-KHV-KMH)
- Joseph Kent Farms, LLC v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02565-KHV-KMH)
- Delta AG v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02567-KHV-KMH)
- Hyer v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02569-KHV-KMH)
- Bass v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02570-KHV-KMH)
- Wishon v. Monsanto Company (No. 13-cv-02573-KHV-KMH)
At one point, a Monsanto official was quoted as saying, “Tractor chasing lawyers have prematurely filed suit without evidence of fault and in advance of the crop’s harvest.”
Monsanto is expected to file motions to dismiss in all of the cases, arguing that the plaintiffs lack standing because they have failed to allege a concrete and particularized past or present injury, and that their claims fail for a variety of other reasons as well, including the lack of duty or that no duty has been breached. At this point one such motion has already been filed, in Brown v. Monsanto Company. The motion may be read here.