Deere Seeks to Dismiss Class Action on Right-to-Repair

The future of a right-to-repair class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 16 farms against John Deere is in the hands of a federal judge, who is considering a motion by the company that could lead to dismissal of the case.

The motion filed by Deere in December in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Illinois seeks a judgement on the pleadings, essentially asking the court to rule on the facts already presented before a trial can be held. Parties in a lawsuit file such a motion when they believe there is insufficient factual support for the allegations.

Farmers who are part of the lawsuit filed a response on Tuesday in opposition to the Deere motion.

All the cases allege John Deere violated the Sherman Antitrust 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.

Deere presented several reasons why Judge Iain D. Johnston should rule in its favor.

The company alleges the farmer plaintiffs lack legal standing to sue, fail to identify a “plausible relevant market” to base their claims, fail to “plausibly allege” Deere has monopoly power in the repair-services market, and fail to “plausibly allege” any “anticompetitive” conduct.

In their opposition to the Deere motion, the farmer plaintiffs said the case boils down to one thing.

“Whatever other disputes exist in this litigation, the parties agree on one underlying fact: For a certain category of repairs, owners of Deere tractors are forced to purchase repair services from a Deere dealer,” the farmers said.

“Whether farmers should have the right to perform comprehensive repairs on their tractors (or, as Deere revealingly puts it, the ‘unfettered ability to make whatever repairs they want’) themselves, or otherwise be able to have these repairs performed by a professional technician of their choice, is the question at the heart of this case.”

The plaintiffs asked the court to be allowed to file an amended complaint if the court rules in Deere’s favor.