The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council may recover at least $602,945 from AgBorn Genetics after prevailing in a Jackson County Circuit Court case Wednesday.
The council administers the federal soybean checkoff program in Missouri. The soybean checkoff collects half a percent of sales from soybean farmers and uses the money for research and commodity promotion.
In 2014, the nonprofit council filed a lawsuit against AgBorn Genetics claiming that the for-profit’s executives struck unenforceable contracts with the council that purported to give AgBorn rights to the council’s soybean seed technologies.
Moreover, the soybean group claimed that AgBorn issued bounced royalty checks signed by its general manager, Alex Stemme, who at the same time worked as an executive at the Missouri soybean organization.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Charles McKenzie in May ruled in favor of the Missouri soybean council in a summary judgment motion, which effectively declared AgBorn’s contracts with the organization invalid.
A three-day jury trial this week found AgBorn liable for $602,945 in damages for unreported sales of the council’s soybean technology.
Todd Rowden, a Chicago attorney for law firm Thompson Coburn, said on Wednesday that the actual verdict could grow to nearly $1 million after interest and costs are included.
“It’s a great day for soybean farmers in Missouri,” Rowden said.
Attorneys for AgBorn could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.