Bayer AG and alleged co-conspirator BASF are appealing a $265 million jury verdict in favor of a Missouri peach farmer who claimed dicamba herbicide formulations produced by the companies irreparably damaged his peach orchard.

In February, a federal jury in Missouri awarded Bill Bader, Missouri’s largest peach farmer, $15 million in actual damages and $250 million in punitive damages. Mr. Bader sued the herbicide manufacturers alleging their dicamba weedkillers drifted away from target fields onto his peach trees, causing massive damages that would eventually kill the orchard and put him out of business.

After the three-week trial and verdict, Bayer hired a private investigator to look into Mr. Bader’s peach farm. The investigator produced evidence that the retail arm of Mr. Bader’s trees were still producing fruit and the retail arm of his business continued to sell peaches. These findings, Bayer claims, demonstrate that Mr. Bader’s court victory was “based on the false premise that the farm would be completely out of the peach business by 2019.”

Mr. Bader’s lawyers called Bayer’s allegations “ridiculous,” saying that Bader farms continues to “sell some peaches, even though it has been devastated by dicamba.”

According to The Counter, Bader Farms once produced 162,000 bushels of peaches per season, but crops plummeted to a low of 12,000 bushels in 2018. Mr. Bader blamed the staggering decline to dicamba drift caused by farmers who allegedly sprayed the herbicide on their crops in the 2015-2016 season. Bader Farms said the damage worsened in 2017 when Bayer and BASF released their new dicamba formulas.

Mr. Bader is among several farmers throughout the U.S. blaming Bayer for dicamba-related crop damage.

Bayer acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion. Since then, the German multinational conglomerate has found itself mired in litigation over Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and its dicamba products.

Bayer previously agreed to pay up to $10.9 billion to settle a slew of U.S. lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who blamed Monsanto’s Roundup for their cancer. Last month, the company said it would pay as much as $400 million to resolve lawsuits blaming airborne dicamba for crop failures.

Bader Farms alleged that Monsanto and BASF worked together to gain regulatory approval and get their products on the market for the 2017 growing season. The new formulations – Bayer’s Xtendimax and BASF’s Engenia, gained regulatory approval after Monsanto had developed and released the genetically modified soybean seeds it created to withstand the new dicamba formulas.

Toxic exposure litigation

Beasley Allen aims to protect people and property from toxic chemicals, working on cases similar to the one outlined above. Toxic chemical exposure may occur over a long period of time at low doses, or serious injury may occur in a single incident involving a high concentration of chemicals or other toxins. Our firm is currently representing plaintiffs in litigation involving Bayer’s herbicide glyphosate in Roundup weedkiller, which has been connected to the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If you have any questions, contact Rhon Jones or John Tomlinson, lawyers in the Section.

Additional sources:
Farm Journal
Reuters

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