A SECOND lead plaintiff in the shattercane class action has brought the total loss and damages being claimed to more than $3.7 million.
The Nitschke Family Trust has joined Mallonland as a lead plaintiff in the action, which involves about 50 farmers in two states.
The matter will now proceed to a hearing unless it is resolved between the parties before then, their lawyer has said.
The company must provide an amended defence this week, at which time the full details of its response to the allegations will be known.
Advanta Seeds spokesman Nick Gardner said the company “remains committed to vigorously defending [the] allegations”.
”Advanta Seeds is proud of its more than 50-year history supporting Australian farmers and the high quality of its seeds,” he said.
“Given customer relationships are integral to the company’s reputation, Advanta Seeds is meticulous in protecting those relationships through the strictest of standards and protocols.”
The plaintiffs’ case is that shattercane competes strongly with planted sorghum, results in a reduced yield, and is difficult and expensive to eradicate.
Their loss and damage, according to their statement of claim, is being calculated at $2000 per hectare per annum: $1500 in lost sorghum production and $500 in shattercane mitigation and eradication.
Creevey Russell Lawyers’ principal Dan Creevey, who is representing the growers, said Justice Debbie Mullins allowed another lead plaintiff when the matter came before her in the Supreme Court of Queensland on April 18.
“The idea is that it gives better representation of the group,” Mr Creevey said.
“Mr Jenner [Mallonland] was a farmer who has since sold his property, and the second lead plaintiff has ongoing trade with the land that’s been affected.
“We wanted another person represented, with another type of damages.
“The property is in the same area as Mallonland: near Dalby.”
The case will decide the issue of liability for the sale of the seed and, if Advanta is liable, the damages suffered by the plaintiffs and group members.
Mr Gardner said Advanta Seeds maintained confidence in its “stringent quality controls and the consistent application of these across the company’s seed breeding and supply practices”.
“Advanta Seeds cannot speculate on the evidence to be presented as part of the court action, nor an outcome, but is confident its stance will be vindicated.
“The allegations put by Creevey Russell remain unproven.”
The matter is being fully funded by litigation funder Balance Legal Capital LLP of London and is being run on a no-win, no-fee basis for farmers.