Corn growers who faced a legal deadline to repay money from corn sold in 2008 to the bankrupt ethanol producer VeraSun received some good news Thursday – the attorneys are dropping their questionable claims for payment.
“This is great news for farmers at a time when we need to focus on bringing in our crops,” said National Corn Growers Association President Darrin Ihnen. “We’re glad the lawyers saw the light and realized they had no legal justification to go after us. We had an excellent team working on this to make sure we had the right information, and to present our case.”
Because of bankruptcy law, attorneys representing VeraSun creditors were able to seek repayment from farmers and others who received money from VeraSun within 90 days prior to the bankruptcy filing.
In late August, hundreds of corn farmers received letters from attorneys threatening legal action. The letters offered to settle the matter with a payment equal to 80 percent of what the farmers received for their corn sales to VeraSun. Farmers had until today to respond, and NCGA and several state corn associations provided information to growers, encouraged them to respond and helped them find legal resources.
In strongly worded correspondence sent Tuesday to the law firms demanding payment, an attorney assisting NCGA insisted that the lawyers withdraw their demands.
“We believe that many of the foregoing demands were made without any legal and factual foundation and, as such, constitute an impermissible effort to collect alleged debts that are clearly not owing,” wrote attorney David Lander of Thompson Coburn. “They appear to have been made without the inquiry reasonable under the circumstances. Moreover, we believe that the claims asserted in the vast bulk of these letters are not warranted by existing law or a non-frivolous argument for the extension, modification or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law.”