Crowder to hear arguments on dueling motions in atrazine case

Amelia Flood Jun. 24, 2010, 5:57am



Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder is scheduled to preside over another discovery dispute in one of a series of proposed class actions stemming from alleged water contamination by a popular weed killer.

Defendant Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. and the potential class, led by lead plaintiff Holiday Shores Sanitary District, have dueling motions to compel up for argument.

Meanwhile, a move by the defense to stay or dismiss the Madison County case until a federal suit over nearly identical claims is resolved remains hanging.

Holiday Shores and the potential class of Illinois water providers have sued Syngenta and a number of other atrazine makers and distributors.

They claim that atrazine, an herbicide commonly used by farmers, runs off farm fields into their water supplies.

They claim the chemicals contaminate the water.

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

The defendants deny the claims.

While the atrazine suits were filed in Madison County six years ago, the plaintiffs' counsel, Stephen Tillery, recently filed a federal class action over nearly identical claims in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Those claims are brought by water providers in states including Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Kansas and others.

The defendants contended in arguments June 10 that the federal suit should either end or stop the Madison County suit from proceeding.

Syngenta argued that the federal suit provided a more comprehensive forum for resolving the dispute.

The plaintiffs countered that the Madison County plaintiffs would not necessarily fit the federal class and could potentially lose out on relief.

Tillery said a stay of the action would turn the long-running suit "into a circus."

Crowder took the motion to dismiss or stay under advisement, pushing off arguments on the motions to compel until July 1 at 10 a.m.

The setting may not be needed as Tillery and Syngenta's lead counsel Kurtis Reeg reached some tentative agreements on the discovery matters that incited the motions to compel at the last hearing.

The Syngenta case is Madison case number 04-L-710.

The atrazine suits are case numbers 04-L-708- 04-L-713.

The federal case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, is 3:10-cv-00188-JPG-PMF

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