U.S. District Judge Iain Johnston ruled on Monday that Deere, the prominent agricultural machinery manufacturer, must confront claims from crop farms and farmers alleging the company’s illicit efforts to restrict maintenance and repair services.
The consolidated lawsuits, hailing from various agricultural sectors, accuse Deere, headquartered in Moline, Illinois, of violating U.S. antitrust law by unlawfully conspiring to limit services essential for the upkeep and repair of their machinery.
Judge Johnston’s 89-page order dismissed Deere’s attempt to have the lawsuits dismissed, stating that the plaintiffs had successfully met the legal thresholds required to pursue their claims. The judge noted, “According to the complaint’s allegations, Deere has the ultimate control of the repair services market. These allegations are not mere legal conclusions. The complaint is chock-full of factual allegations to support this conclusion.”
Deere has staunchly denied the allegations, asserting that the company will have an opportunity in the later stages of the case to dispute the merits of the farmers’ claims.
In response to the ruling, a Deere spokesperson and attorneys from Jones Day, representing the company, did not immediately provide comments.
Lead plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Hedlund, affiliated with the law firm Gustafson Gluek in Minneapolis, expressed optimism about the decision, stating, “We look forward to continuing to pursue the claims of their farmer clients in this right-to-repair antitrust case.”
This legal battle is part of a broader trend where consumers and various stakeholders are increasingly challenging restrictions on maintenance and repair. Notably, a U.S. judge in California recently dismissed a right-to-repair case against Tesla earlier this month, allowing the possibility for drivers to refile an amended complaint.