Class Action Filed Against John Deere for Alleged Tractor Repair Monopoly

On Monday, Plum Ridge Farms, Ltd. filed a complaint in the Northern District of Illinois against Deere & Co. (John Deere) for the alleged monopolization of the repair service market for Deere tractors and other products.

According to the complaint, Deere brand agricultural equipment contains “engine control units (ECUs)” with centralized computers that force farmers to have their products serviced at Deere licensed mechanics and dealerships. In the past, the complaint said, farmers previously had the ability to repair their own tractors and mowers but now are not allowed to have “access to the same software and repair tools the Dealerships have,” allegedly creating a monopoly.

The plaintiff claimed that “Deere is highly motivated to prevent competition, either from independent repair shops selling Deere Repair Services” and that their repair service market is “three to six times more profitable than its sales of original equipment.” In 2018, Deere promised “to make the necessary Software and tools available by January 2021” but “Deere has failed to followthrough on this promise.”

Plum Ridge Farms alleged that this was done because “Deere’s scheme to prevent independent repairs creates additional revenue for Deere over the entire useful life of every piece of equipment it sells.” Thus, per the complaint, the plaintiff and putative class have paid supracompetitive prices for the repairs of their Deere equipment over the past 20 years; furthermore, these farmers have been forced to travel long distances and endure long wait times to have their products serviced which has caused them to lose some of their profits and has hurt their livelihoods.

The plaintiffs are suing for violations of the Sherman Act Sections 1 & 2 for group boycott, unlawful tying arrangement, monopolization, monopoly leveraging, attempted monopolization in the alternative, conspiracy to monopolize, and for declaratory and injunctive relief, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment.

The plaintiff is seeking class certification, judgment as dictated in the Sherman Act, injunctive relief, damages, treble damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief. 

Plum Ridge Farms is represented by Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, LLC and WilliamsMcCarthy LLP.