The Madison County Record Dec. 17, 2014, 8:31am

U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum of Kansas will preside over suits from many courts blaming Syngenta Seeds for China’s rejection of American corn shipments.

Judges of the federal multi district litigation panel picked Lungstrum on Dec. 11, after consolidating 168 suits that farmers and businesses brought against Syngenta Seeds.

The choice may have disappointed lawyers who filed 66 suits in district court at East St. Louis, hoping to bring the litigation before District Judge David Herndon.

Clayton Clark of Houston and Martin Phipps of San Antonio, who filed 53 suits in East St. Louis in October, specifically asked for Herndon.

They argued that the panel should first consider the court with the largest number of cases.

Other plaintiffs recommended district courts of Kansas, Eastern Missouri, Northern Illinois, Central Illinois, Northern Iowa, and Southern Iowa.

The John Simmons firm in East Alton, on behalf of a client in the Central Illinois court, recommended any of the three Illinois districts.

Syngenta Seeds recommended the district of Minnesota, home of its headquarters.

Judges of the panel picked Kansas, praising Lungstrum as “well versed in the nuances of complex multi district litigation.”

“We are confident that Judge Lungstrum will steer this controversy on a prudent course,” they wrote.

The suits started after Chinese officials refused deliveries of corn that contained Viptera, a genetically modified bug killer that the U.S. had approved but China had not.

Paul Lesko and Brandon Wise of the Simmons firm sued Syngenta Seeds on behalf of Trans Coastal Supply Company, of Decatur.

They wrote that China’s rejection of shipments cost the U.S. corn market at least $1 billion if not nearly $3 billion.

“Syngenta’s motivation in prematurely releasing Viptera corn is greed, as, upon information and belief, Viptera corn has become approximately 25 percent of Syngenta’s corn portfolio,” they wrote.

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