Three farmers recently filed a class action against the very Texas plaintiff firm that represented them in the Syngenta MIR162 corn case, according to Reuters. They contend Watts Guerra ‘duped’ nearly 60,000 farmers into agreeing to a 40% contingency fee and then excluded their clients from state and federal class actions against Syngenta.
Reuters reports the Minnesota federal court class action “asserts racketeering, conspiracy, fraud and state-law claims” against the law firm and other co-council. The suit asks the fee agreements to be made void.
“This lawsuit is without merit, and it is frivolous,” says Mikal Watts, of Watts Guerra in a statement emailed to AgWeb. “Every bit of work in this case [Syngenta litigation] has been done ethically, following consultations with ethics experts in various states.”
The lawsuit against Watts will be handled by Douglas Nill of FirmLaw. Court documents state Watts and other named defendants opted farmers out of the class action without informing them of their rights. Essentially, the suit claims these 60,000 farmers did not get to decide whether they wanted to be a part of the class action or if they wanted to opt-out. It sought to “keep Watts Guerra’s clients in the dark about the class actions,” according to Reuters.
“This is not a real lawsuit, it is merely a collateral attack on a settlement by one lawyer who has done ‘nil on this case,” Watts says. “We will vigorously defend this frivolous lawsuit filed yesterday, and will defeat it with both facts and law.”
This is not the first fraud allegation against Watts. He was acquitted in 2016 in Mississippi on charges that he tried to defraud BP, Reuters reports.