Syngenta asks to stay or dismiss atrazine case while federal class is pending

Amelia Flood May 26, 2010, 12:10pm

Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. asked Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder to postpone arguments in a proposed class action until its attorneys could respond to more than 300 pages of documents delivered by plaintiff attorney Stephen Tillery the night before the hearing.

Crowder agreed and reset Syngenta's motion to dismiss or stay the case to June 10.

The suit against Syngenta and other makers or suppliers of atrazine allege the common weedkiller contaminates water supplies. It is among five others filed in Madison County six years ago. Syngenta wants the cases stayed or thrown out in part because a nearly identical federal suit is pending against it and its parent company in federal court.

The federal suit, also filed by Tillery, includes a proposed class of water providers in at least five neighboring states and other Illinois water providers.

The suits have not been certified.

Tillery has yet to respond to Syngenta's May 4 motion to dismiss or stay.

At a hearing Wednesday, Tillery contended that the 300 pages of documents were in response to discovery requests made by the defendant.

Syngenta attorney Kurtis Reeg said he wanted time to appropriately respond, especially given that he has a motion to compel pending against the plaintiffs as well.

In Syngenta's May 4 motion, it argues it should not have to fight two nearly identical class actions at the same time.

"Syngenta would be exposed to unnecessary duplicative litigation through a ruling on class certification and beyond," the defendant argues.

It also argues the Madison County case should be dismissed because the federal court's multi-jurisdictional reach would provide a proper remedy to the plaintiffs and that class members would overlap in the two cases.

"There is no question that a federal court is capable of affording complete relief to the litigants," the motion reads. "Not only can complete relief be provided in federal court, but, indeed, only the federal court can provide complete relief. 'Common sense' also dictates ample reason to do so. If this Court proceeds with this case, duplicative litigation will be ensured, giving rise to a waste of judicial resources and the risk of conflicting results for the parties. This would create a scenario that is patently unfair to Syngenta."

If the case is not dismissed in the Madison County court, Syngenta asks Crowder to stay its proceedings while the federal cases remains pending.

Madison County case number 04-L-710.

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