Lead plaintiff Holiday Shores Sanitary District is asking Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge to limit the scope covered by two subpoenas issued to expert witnesses in a proposed class action over the weed killer atrazine.
Holiday Shores moved for the protective order June 3 after defendant Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. served subpoenas on Frank Ackerman, an environmental economist based at Tufts University, and Paul Rosenfeld, a California-based remediation expert.
Holidays Shores is suing Syngenta on behalf of what could become a class of Illinois cities and water providers over alleged water contamination caused by the company’s atrazine.
The suit is one of six filed in 2004 by Holiday Shores on claims that atrazine runs off farm fields and contaminates drinking water supplies that the lead plaintiff and potential class members must then clean up.
The suit has sparked a nearly identical federal class action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
Syngenta is the defendant in the federal case as well.
It denies the plaintiffs’ claims in both suits and has sought to have them dismissed without success.
Subpoenaing experts has been a bone of contention between Holiday Shores and Syngenta in the Madison County case.
Mudge is set to hear motions related to one of Syngenta’s experts June 22 at 9 a.m.
The issue of when Syngenta retained Don Coursey, an economist at the University of Chicago, has been one of heated debate and has sparked a sanctions move in the case.
Coursey and Syngenta have also fought a subpoena issued to Coursey by Holiday Shores.
The Coursey dispute has also spilled over into arguments about Syngenta’s contract with a Chicago-based public relations firm, Jayne Thompson and Associates.
Mudge eventually ordered the release of Syngenta’s contract with the firm and noted that it appeared the firm had worked to create “a hostile attitude” about Madison County’s judicial system.
Syngenta filed its own subpoenas earlier this month.
The defendant subpoenaed the Natural Resources Defense Council along with Ackerman and Rosenfeld.
According to the June 3 move for the protective order, both Rosenfeld and Ackerman were retained as litigation consultants by Holiday Shores in July 2003 and May 2009 respectively.
The motion also states that Syngenta is seeking testimony as well as business documents, and other records.
Syngenta has also challenged the pair’s standing as litigation consultants.
Holiday Shores wants Mudge to enter a protective order limiting the scope of testimony and documents Syngenta may use due to the two men’s consulting status.
Stephen Tillery, Christie Deaton and others represent Holiday Shores. They also represent the plaintiffs in the federal case.
Kurtis Reeg represents Syngenta in both cases.
The Syngenta case is Madison case number 04-L-710.
The Madison County atrazine suits pending before Mudge are case numbers 04-L-708 to
The federal suit led by the City of Greenville pends before U.S. District Court Judge J. Phil Gilbert.