PETERSON V. BASF CORP. LITIGATION TIMELINE
Peterson v. BASF Corp. ("BASF"), was initiated in Norman County District Court, Ninth Judicial District of Minnesota, in December, 1997, the Honorable Michael J. Kraker presiding. Defendant BASF, a New Jersey-based corporation, thereupon removed the case to federal court.
Peterson v. BASF Corp., 12 F. Supp.2d 964 (D. Minn. 1998) (granting farmers' motion to remand case from federal court to state court).
National class certification on farmers' claims under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.
Trial Court issued March 2, 2000 Order denying BASF's motion to decertify the class but granting summary judgment to BASF and dismissing the case.
Farmers appeal and win the appeal. Peterson v. BASF Corp., 618 N.W.2d 821 (Minn. App. 2000), rev. denied (Minn. Jan. 26, 2001) ("Peterson") (affirming national class certification under New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and remanding for a jury to determine whether BASF's herbicide marketing and pricing schemes deceived farmers and wrongfully exploited the federal EPA and state regulatory process as a "system of deceit" to exact inflated prices from minor crop farmers).
Trial commenced Nov. 5, 2001. A unanimous 12-member Norman County jury on Dec. 6, 2001, issued a jury verdict in favor of farmers.
The trial court denied BASF's post-trial motions. With the addition of prejudgment interest, mandatory treble damages and other mandatory damages under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the trial court on April 2, 2002 entered judgment of $52,058,932.00 against BASF for defrauding farmers in the sale of a herbicide in this national class action suit tried in Ada, MN.
BASF appeals the jury verdict and trial court judgment.
Farmers file their appellate brief on the twenty-fourth.
Joining the battle with briefs submitted to the Court of Appeals on behalf of BASF are the following national chemical and big business industry organizations (and their issues):
Joining the battle and submitting briefs to the Court of Appeals on behalf of farmers (and their issues) are the following:
- CropLife America: EPA preemption/regulatory compliance
- National Association of Manufacturers and American Chemistry Council: patent law preemption/regulatory compliance
- AEI-Brookings Joint Center of Washington, D.C.: ascertainable loss (causal nexus)
- Product Liability Advisory Council: ascertainable loss (causal nexus)
- Washington Legal Foundation of Washington, D.C.: application of New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act ("NJCFA") to national class action
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: application of NJCFA to national class action.
- State of Minnesota through Minnesota Attorney Generals' Office: application of NJCFA to national class action
- American Sugarbeet Growers Association: unconscionable exploitation of EPA and state herbicide regulatory processes by BASF
Oral argument on Dec. 11, 2002 before Minnesota Court of Appeals' panel of three judges. A ruling is expected by no later than mid-March, 2003.
March 11, 2003
Minnesota Court of Appeals issues opinion rejecting BASF’s 34 appeal issues and affirming the jury verdict and judgment.
BASF files petition requesting further review from Minnesota Supreme Court. BASF’s petition challenges national class certification under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and asserts defenses of federal preemption and First Amendment.
Minnesota Supreme Court accepts the case for further review. Submitting “friend of the court” briefs to the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of BASF were U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Independent Insurers, American Tort Reform Association, CropLife America, National Association of Manufacturers and American Chemistry Council, Product Liability Advisory Council, and Washington Legal Foundation.
The State of Minnesota, through Attorney General Mike Hatch, American Sugarbeet Growers’ Association, Minnesota Farmers Union, and Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association, joined the appellate fray with “friend of the court” briefs on behalf of farmers.
February 19, 2004
Minnesota Supreme Court fully affirms the jury award and judgment of $56 million against New Jersey-based BASF Corp. for defrauding United States farmers in the sale of a herbicide in a national class action suit.
April 2, 2004
Trial court orders BASF to post a supersedeas bond of $58.5 million to avoid a stay of execution on the judgment pending BASF’s threatened filing of a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.
July 6, 2004
Trial court issues order rejecting BASF’s claim that it has a financial interest and standing to challenge how farmers distribute the common fund.
July 19, 2004
BASF files a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, asking the Court to review the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling. BASF asserts Farmers’ claims are preempted by federal regulatory law (FIFRA) and that BASF’s statements and conduct are protected speech under the First Amendment.
August 16, 2004
Farmers file a brief in opposition to BASF’s petition for a writ of certiorari.
December, 2004 - April, 2005
BASF and Farmers each file three additional supplemental briefs before the United State Supreme Court.
April 26, 2005
Minnesota Court of Appeals affirms that the April 2, 2002 jury verdict judgment was a “final ... common fund” judgment ending BASF’s interest.
May 2, 2005
United States Supreme Court grants BASF’s petition, vacates and remands to the Minnesota Supreme Court “for further consideration in light of Bates v. Dow AgroSciences, LLC,” 544 U.S. __ (April 27, 2005) (state tort claims addressing responsibilities of chemical manufacturers to consumers are not preempted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)).
August 30, 2005
Minnesota Court of Appeals declines to reach the “merits” of BASF’s attempted “settlement” fund motion.
October 31, 2005
Oral argument before the Minnesota Supreme Court addressing the remand from the United States Supreme Court.
March 30, 2006
Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously and decisively reaffirms the jury verdict judgment: "[Farmers’] claims under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act are not preempted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act, because they concern non-label deceptive statements and conduct and do not constitute a requirement for labeling or packaging."
October 11, 2006
Farmers' Brief In Opposition to BASF's second petition for certiorari in this litigation is filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. Douglas J. Nill is Counsel of Record (lead counsel).
Six State And Federal Court Opinions Addressing And Approving Farmers’ Claims
- Peterson v. BASF Corp., A04-2464 (Minn. App. 2005) (Peterson V), rev. denied (Minn. Nov. 22, 2005) (declining to reach the “merits” of BASF’s attempted “settlement” fund motion);
- Peterson v. BASF Corp., A04-1553 (Minn. App. 2005) (Peterson IV), rev. denied (Minn. July 19, 2005) (Minn. R. Civ. P. 54 jury verdict judgment was a “final ... common fund” judgment ending BASF’s interest);
- Peterson v. BASF Corp., 675 N.W.2d 57 (Minn. 2004) (Peterson III) (affirming jury verdict judgment);
- Peterson v. BASF Corp., 657 N.W.2d 853 (Minn. App. 2003) (Peterson II) (affirming jury verdict judgment);
- Peterson v. BASF Corp., 618 N.W.2d 821 (Minn. App. 2000), rev. denied (Minn. Jan. 26, 2001) (Peterson I) (reversing district court summary judgment and remanding for trial);
- Peterson v. BASF Corp., 12 F. Supp.2d 964 (D. Minn. 1998) (Peterson) (granting Farmers’ motion to remand to state court).
Relevant documents available for download: