Barry Deacon is a partner at PHIPPS DEACON PURNELL PLLC and a courtroom trial lawyer with over 40 years of experience as a civil litigator. He is widely recognized by his peers as a fierce advocate for his clients with a winning track record in state and federal courts across the country.
Barry has a wide range of experience handling complex business disputes, mass torts, personal injury, multidistrict litigation, products liability and railroad litigation. For the past decade, Barry has predominantly focused his practice on agricultural litigation, battling massive global agribusinesses for damage caused by genetically modified crops.
For more than five years, Barry successfully defended Riceland Foods, Inc., the world’s largest rice miller and marketer, against hundreds of lawsuits brought in state and federal courts by rice farmers and non-producers in response to contamination of the U.S. rice supply by Bayer CropScience’s (Bayer) experimental and unapproved genetically modified Liberty Link rice. See In Re: Genetically Modified Rice Litig., 4:06-MD-01811 (E.D. Mo.).
Riceland was a party in three of the eight bellwether trials that proceeded against Bayer in state court. As lead trial attorney for Riceland, Barry successfully pursued Riceland’s affirmative claims for relief against Bayer. He was also successful in defending Riceland in two jury trials, receiving a defense verdict in one and a directed verdict in another.
The third jury trial proceeded with Riceland as the plaintiff on its affirmative claims against Bayer. The jury returned a verdict in Riceland’s favor for $136.8 million, which included $125 million in punitive damages to Riceland.
This was the largest jury verdict against Bayer in the GM Rice Litigation and was reported as the largest jury verdict in Arkansas history.
As the lead attorney for Riceland, Barry also successfully prosecuted claims for hundreds of Arkansas and Missouri rice farmers. Barry’s experience representing both defendants and plaintiffs in the GM Rice Litigation gave him invaluable insight into all aspects of complex commercial litigation.
Barry is consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers for commercial litigation. He has served in leadership positions in various bar organizations, including President of the Arkansas Bar Foundation. In 2005, the Arkansas Defense Association gave Barry the Outstanding Defense Attorney Award for Arkansas.
Barry has also been appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to serve on the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct, serving as Chair in 2012. Barry was also appointed by Judge Leon Holmes, the past presiding Senior Judge of the Eastern District of Arkansas, as a member of the Federal Court Practice Committee.