Ethanol Case Moves to Illinois

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN Staff Reporter • Posted: Monday, November 9, 2020

Judge Rules Green Plains Inc. Claims Nearly Identical to Other Cases

A federal judge in Nebraska granted Archer Daniels Midland a requested change of venue in an ethanol market case. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo by Pamela Smith)
A federal judge in Nebraska granted Archer Daniels Midland a requested change of venue in an ethanol market case. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo by Pamela Smith)

OMAHA (DTN) — The legal fight to prove alleged ethanol market manipulation against Archer Daniels Midland will be consolidated in a federal court in Illinois after a Nebraska court approved ADM’s motion to change venue.

Omaha-based Green Plains Inc. filed a class-action lawsuit in July alleging ADM conducted a scheme to illegally depress the ethanol cash spot market.

There are two other similar lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, one by Midwest Renewable Energy (MRE) and another by Swiss company AOT Holdings. Both cases allege ethanol-market manipulation by ADM.

Judge Michael D. Nelson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska said in his order on Friday Green Plains’ case is nearly identical to the other two cases.

“In fact, the majority of Green Plains’ complaint contains verbatim allegations as contained in the AOT and MRE complaints and includes the same graphics and charts,” Nelson said.

“Green Plains attempts to differentiate its case from AOT and MRE cases by suggesting this action is the only case brought on behalf of physical ethanol sellers. However, review of MRE’s complaint demonstrates that MRE is also an ethanol seller and producer seeking to represent a class of ethanol producers and sellers harmed by ADM’s alleged price manipulation scheme.”

The judge said because AOT Holdings filed its complaint in Illinois more than 10 months before Green Plains filed its complaint, “also weighs in favor of transfer because the two other putative class action cases are pending before the same district judge and magistrate judge in that district, and the parties have already engaged in motion practice and discovery there.”

Green Plains had argued its case was different from the others. The company claims it is the only plaintiff to have lost money on physical ethanol sales as a result of ADM’s alleged scheme.

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