John Deere Faces Mounting Antitrust Allegations in MDL

On Wednesday, Dexter Cronquist (Plaintiff) filed a putative class action against Deere & Co. (d/b/a John Deere) in the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiff alleges that Deere has committed antitrust violations in connection with the “repair services market for John Deere…brand agricultural equipment with on board central computers known as engine control units, or ‘ECUs.’ “

Deere has been hit with a number of similar lawsuits in 2022. Earlier this month, Law Street Media reported that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation had filed a transfer order consolidating six such actions in the Northern District of Illinois before Judge Iain Johnston under the caption In Re: Deere & Company Repair Services Antitrust Litigation. The website of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation shows thirteen pending actions as of June 15.

Plaintiff alleges that Deere has “deliberately monopolized the market for repair and maintenance services of its agricultural equipment with ECUs…by making crucial software inaccessible to farmers and independent repair shops.” Instead, Deere has allegedly forced consolidation in its dealership network and has contractually prohibited the dealerships from providing “farmers or [independent] repair shops with access to the same software and repair tools the Dealerships have.” Through such conduct, “Deere and the Dealerships have cornered the Deere Repair Services Market in the United States for Deere-branded agricultural products controlled by ECUs and have derived supracompetitive profits from the sale of repair and maintenance services.”

Plaintiff seeks to represent a class of purchasers of repair services during the “Class Period of January 12, 2018 to the present.” There are ten causes of action, eight under the Sherman Act, one for Promissory Estoppel and one for Unjust Enrichment. Plaintiffs seek trebled damages and injunctive relief.

Plaintiff is represented by Zimmerman Reed LLP and Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, LLC.