Judge Crowder should do some weeding

The Madison County Record Apr. 18, 2010, 2:56am

Location, location, location. That's what Realtors say is the prime determinant of a house's value. Identical homes often have dramatically different purchase prices just because of location.

The same is true of plants. Where plants grow often dictates the value. Morning Glories clinging to a lattice fence surrounding a shady patio are seen as pretty flowers worth preserving, but when those flowery plants are smothering a farmer's crops out in a sun-drenched field they're just troublesome weeds.

Location also may determine the value or viability of a lawsuit. Lawsuits that would wither in one jurisdiction could thrive in another, as our readers can attest. Dandelion suits from other venues often are treated like the rarest orchids here in Madison County.

Plaintiffs attorney Stephen Tillery currently is trying to cultivate a crabgrass collection of class action suits against makers of atrazine-based weedkillers. He's representing the Holiday Shores Sanitation District, alleging that atrazine runoff poses an unsubstantiated hazard to its drinking water supply, and has joined seven Illinois municipalities to the suits.

The suits seem to have dubious merit. Farmers in Illinois and elsewhere have used atrazine safely and effectively for 50 years to control weeds and increase crop yields, and the EPA repeatedly has affirmed that atrazine levels in community water supplies are well below a cautious threshold. But the fact that the seven cities joined to the suits are outside of Madison has prompted defendants to request transfer of the claims back to the home counties of the cities.

Houses are hard to move. Moving plants is easy enough, and moving lawsuits is even easier. All Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder has to do is issue an order.

We hope she does. We're tired of Madison County being the venue of choice for smooth operators whose dreams of jackpot justice can't be realized in the jurisdictions they come from. We're tired of people bringing their weeds to Madison County and expecting us to treat them like flowers.

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