Syngenta atrazine case takes road to appellate court

Amelia Flood Nov. 15, 2010, 12:12pm


A proposed class action suit filed six years ago over alleged water contamination caused by the weed killer atrazine is on its way to the appellate court in Mount Vernon.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder signed agreed upon orders in the case filed against Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. that certified questions for appeal from lead plaintiff Holiday Shores Sanitary District.

Crowder had certified questions from Syngenta and several non-parties to the case earlier this month.

All of the questions relate to discovery requests made by Holiday Shores to non-parties to the case including the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Heartland Institute and chemical industry lobbying groups.

Holiday Shores is leading several other Illinois municipalities and water providers in six proposed class actions against Syngenta and other companies that make or distribute atrazine.

The plaintiffs contend that atrazine runs off fields and into drinking water supplies, contaminating them and leading to health problems.

A nearly identical class action was filed by the plaintiffs' attorneys, Stephen Tillery, Christie Deaton and others, earlier this year in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

It alleges nearly identical claims to the older Madison County suits against Syngenta and its Switzerland-based parent.

The Syngenta defendants have moved to dismiss that suit and that move is pending in the federal case.

Syngenta has unsuccessfully tried to have the Madison County suit stayed or dismissed pending the outcome of the federal case.

Syngenta and the non-parties moved to quash the plaintiffs' discovery requests in September and Crowder heard arguments on the matter last month.

Crowder issued an order Oct. 29 limiting the discoverable documents to those relating to Syngenta.

However, all sides took issue with what the order covered and whether or not First Amendment protections trump parts of Illinois' discovery rules.

Tillery and his team represent the plaintiffs in all of the Madison County cases and the federal suit.

Kurtis Reeg represents Syngenta in all the cases.

Although Crowder has overseen the latest disputes in the Syngenta case, the case is technically under the oversight of Madison County
Circuit Judge Daniel Stack until he retires Dec. 3.

Stack also oversees the other atrazine suits.

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

The atrazine cases are case numbers 04-L-708 to 04-L-713.

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