Crowder settles atrazine discovery issues, sets February hearings
Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder has sided with attorney Stephen Tillery in his demand for documents from an Italian parent company in a series of proposed atrazine class actions.
But, Crowder also denied Tillery's request to enter a more defined discovery schedule for defendant Syngenta Crop Protection and others, during a hearing Tuesday.
Holiday Shores, leading a number of other municipalities and water districts in six separate cases, argues that atrazine runs off of fields and contaminates water supplies.
Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ruled that atrazine is safe in up to three parts per billion in drinking water, the plaintiffs contend that atrazine in even smaller concentrations causes human health problems.
The hearing was held to air arguments in a renewed motion to compel filed by the plaintiffs against defendant Sipcam.
Tillery argued that the company and its attorney, Geoffrey Bryce, were balking at his discovery requests.
Bryce argued that Sipcam had complied with requests but that Tillery wants documents held by Sipcam's parent company, Oxon Italia, and that unless he specified exactly what he wanted, Bryce would likely not be able to get them.
Bryce further contended that Oxon operates separately and distinctly from Sipcam and was a third party not bound by the discovery requests served on Sipcam.
"They may say, 'Mr. Bryce, you're a nice man but go fly a kite," Bryce told Crowder.
Tillery argued that because managers from Oxon run Sipcam's board of directors, it stood to reason that they were roughly the same company and should be subject to producing the requested documents.
"This stuff that we're all separate is baloney," Tillery said.
Crowder sided with Tillery, ordering that the discovery request be forwarded onto Oxon.
Crowder denied Tillery's request to enter a more defined discovery schedule for Syngenta and other defendants.
Syngenta counsel Kurtis Reeg told Crowder that the company was producing up to 350,000 pages of documents monthly and that he was keeping Tillery abreast as best he could.
At the request of the parties, Crowder set two more hearing dates in the cases at the close of the hearing.
A hearing Feb. 8 will take up either several defendant moves to transfer venue or objections to the venue discovery.
A back-up date of Feb. 23 was also set, pending Crowder's availability due to a possible two week trial starting Feb. 16.
Both future hearings will begin at 10 a.m.
The defendants in the case are as follows and are represented by:
Sipcam is represented by Geoffrey Bryce.
Growmark and Dow Chemical Company are represented by Robert Shultz Jr.
Syngenta is represented by Kurtis Reeg.
United Agri-Products Inc. is represented by Reeg in a special limited appearance.
Drexel Chemical Company is represented by Daniel Cray.
Makhteshim-Agan of North America is represented by Russell Scott.
The atrazine cases are Madison case numbers 04-L-708 to 04-L-713.
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