Crowder to hear motion to dismiss atrazine class actions

Amelia Flood Apr. 8, 2010, 10:53am



A defendant in one of a series of proposed Madison County class action suits over alleged water contamination by a common weed killer is moving to dismiss.

According to a notice of hearing filed April 5, defendant Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. is asking to dismiss class action suits filed against it by lead plaintiff Holiday Shores Sanitation District.

The motion, according to the hearing notice, is a combined motion to dismiss on behalf of the defendants.

A copy of the motion was not yet available in the case file.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder will hear the motion April 14 at 1:30 p.m.

Syngenta is one of a number of companies that make or distribute atrazine. Syngenta has taken the defense lead in the six class actions filed against seven companies in 2004 by attorney Stephen Tillery of St. Louis.

Holiday Shores, as well as seven other Illinois municipalities, contend that atrazine runs off fields and contaminates drinking water supplies.

Motions to transfer the claims of the municipalities -- which lie outside of Madison County -- remain pending. Crowder took those motions under advisement after a Feb. 23 hearing. She has yet to rule on them.

The seven municipal plaintiffs are Carlinville, Mattoon, Flora, Fairfield, Mount Olive, Litchfield and Hillsboro.

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that atrazine is safe in drinking water up to three parts per billion, the plaintiffs allege that even smaller amounts cause medical issues for human beings.

Tillery also has filed a federal lawsuit encompassing Illinois and neighboring states like Missouri over similar atrazine contamination claims. That suit is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

At a Madison County venue transfer hearing, Tillery asked for and was granted leave to file a second amended complaint, dropping a number of nuisance and property-related claims.

Robert Shultz, attorney for defendants Growmark and Dow AgroSciences, called the second amended complaint an attempt to get around the defense arguments for splitting off the seven municipalities.

The cases are still in the early stages of discovery.

The cases had originally been assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

Crowder took over last year after Stack announced his intention of retiring this year.

Syngenta also has a motion to compel that will be heard at the April 14 hearing.

The defendants in the suits and their representations are as follows:

Sipcam Agro USA is represented by Geoffrey Bryce.

Growmark and Dow Chemical Company are represented by Shultz.

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.

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Organizations in this Story

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dow Chemical
2030 Dow Center
Midland, MI 48674

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