After it was discovered that the American long-grain rice supply was contaminated with genetically modified rice developed by Bayer Holding, Inc., all of the federal lawsuits against Bayer were centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (MDL court). The MDL court appointed Appellees as a leadership group to coordinate pretrial preparations for the federal litigation. Appellants filed a complaint against Bayer, and the jury awarded Appellants $532,643 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages. Before the entry of judgment, Appellees filed a motion to intervene seeking to collect eleven percent of Appellants' total recovery for placement in a common fund established to compensate the leadership group for its efforts. The court granted the complaint in intervention. On reconsideration, the circuit court adhered to its ruling creating a common-benefit fund in favor of Appellees. Appellants appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice for the lack of a proper certification under Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b), as the order being appealed was not final. View "Kyle v. Gray Ritter & Graham P.C." on Justia Law
Bayer CropScience LP developed LibertyLink Rice (LLRice), a genetically engineered rice, which Bayer subsequently used in outdoor field tests. The USDA later found that trace amounts of LLRice in the U.S. long-grain rice supply. Due to the contamination, several countries slowed or banned the import of all American rice. Appellees, several rice farmers and farming entities, sued Bayer, claiming (1) Bayer was negligent in allowing the accidental release of LLRice into the nation's rice supply by not taking adequate precautions during field trials to prevent cross-pollination or the commingling of genetically modified rice seed with conventional seed; and (2) Bayer's negligence caused economic harm by driving down the market price for American long-grain rice. The circuit court awarded $5,975,605 in compensatory damages and $42,000,0000 in punitive damages to Appellees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in (1) ruling that Ark. Code Ann. 16-55-208, which establishes limits on awards of punitive damages, is unconstitutional; (2) concluding that Appellees' claims were not barred by the economic-loss doctrine; (3) allowing certain expert testimony; and (4) rejecting Bayer's legal argument advanced in its motion for a directed verdict.