A federal appellate court upheld a lower court’s decision in favor of Missouri’s largest peach farmer who was awarded $15 million in compensatory damages over claims that the Monsanto Corporation’s pesticide, Dicamba, drifted onto his farm from an adjacent field and destroyed his crop, Claims Journal reported.  

The St. Louis, MO-based 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on July 8 to uphold the verdict in favor of Bader Farms, which sued Monsanto and the German multinational corporation BASF. The plaintiff, Bill Bader, sued both entities because the two companies had allegedly collaborated on Xtend, an herbicide-resistant cotton seed, which was intended to be used with a less volatile form of dicamba. This new and theoretical form of dicamba was supposed to be less likely to drift onto adjacent farms when sprayed onto crops. As of 2015, neither company had actually produced this new form of dicamba with the supposed reduced drift.

Bader Farms’ annual revenues for its peach crop exceeded $2 million prior to the alleged destruction that the crops endured because of dicamba drift, financial documents showed at trial. An expert witness for the plaintiff testified that pesticide damage caused the farm to lose nearly $21 million in profits. 

The Bader Farms lawsuit went to trial in early 2020 and was one of more than 100 similar dicamba lawsuits, Reuters reported. Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, announced in June 2020 that it would settle dicamba lawsuits for up to $400 million.

The settlement announcement by Bayer coincided with a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that concluded that there were substantial fundamental flaws in EPA’s analysis of dicamba, resulting in the pesticide being banned after it had been used for nearly 50 years. 

In addition to being awarded $15 million in compensatory damages, Bill Bader was initially awarded $250 million in punitive damages, which was later reduced by a federal judge to $60 million. According to a July 7 Reuters report, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that punitive damages should not have been jointly assessed for Monsanto and BASF. A new trial is needed to determine the punitive damages for each company, the court ruled. 

The ruling does not affect Bader’s initial $15 million compensatory award.