LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Nearly all right-to-repair class-action lawsuits filed against John Deere have been consolidated in a federal court in Illinois.
On Monday, a lawsuit filed in Mississippi by Tennessee farmer Blake Johnson in March and Virginia resident Samantha Casselbury were transferred to the Illinois court. In addition, a new lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Florida by Colvin Farms LLC, also on Monday.
Last week, a lawsuit filed by Greenwood, Minnesota-based Hapka Farms Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota also was transferred to the Illinois court.
Two weeks ago, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated nine cases in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Illinois. Since then, four more cases have been filed and/or moved to the court as part of consolidation.
Also consolidated in the Illinois court are actions brought by Gary DeLoach, a Tuscaloosa, Alabama, resident; Forest River Farms in North Dakota; Plum Ridge Farms Ltd. v. Deere in Illinois; Daniel Brown, the owner of Otsego Forestry Services in New York; Arkansas-based Eagle Lake Farms Partnership; Virginia-based Lloyd Family Farms; Franklin County, Alabama, farmer Trinity Dale Wells; Alfalfa County, Oklahoma, farmer Monty Ferrell; and Tennessee farmer David Underwood from a federal court in Tennessee.
All the cases allege John Deere violated the Sherman Act and seek damages for farmers who paid for repairs from John Deere dealers beginning on Jan. 12, 2018, to the present.
The cases allege the company has monopolized the repair service market for John Deere brand agricultural equipment with onboard central computers known as engine control units, or ECUs.
In a June 2 statement to DTN, Deere said that for more than 180 years, the company has "empowered" customers to maintain and repair their own equipment.
"That's why we provide tools, parts, training videos, manuals, and remote access for customers to work on their machines," the company said.
"John Deere equipment is manufactured to the highest engineering standards to maximize performance while protecting the safety and health of our customers and the environment. While we support the customers right to maintain and repair their products, we do not support customers modifying embedded software due to risks related to safety, emissions compliance and the uncertainty it creates in the aftermarket."
Deere said it already offers a variety of tools to farmers to help maintain and repair their equipment. That includes access to repair manuals, Customer Service ADVISOR, a diagnostic and information tool that customers and independent repair shops can purchase from dealers or online directly from John Deere as of May 2022.
In addition, the company said it provides JDLink, which connects a machine's information to the web and can alert customers to issues as they develop and provide other useful information like location and status.
Deere said it also provides Connected Support, which allows dealers to remotely analyze, clear and refresh diagnostic trouble codes in "near real time" to isolate potential issues with a customers' machines.
The right to repair increasingly has become an issue in agriculture and other industries with state legislatures introducing bills in at least 32 states, including bills in 21 states in 2021. A bill failed to pass in the Nebraska Legislature earlier this year.
In September 2018, the Equipment Dealers Association, a trade and lobbying group that represents John Deere and other manufacturers, committed to make repair tools, software and diagnostics available to the public by Jan. 1, 2021.
In March 2022, Deere announced the May release of the "Customer Service ADVISOR," the tool that was to be released for purchase in January 2021.
Read more on DTN:
"Deere Faces 13 Suits on Right to Repair," https://www.dtnpf.com/….
Todd Neeley can be reached at email@example.com
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