Heartland Institute files motion to stay Holiday Shores' discovery, pending appeal

Amelia Flood Jan. 25, 2011, 11:50am


A non-party to a proposed class action over the weed killer atrazine is asking to stop discovery in the Madison County suit while it appeals to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Heartland Institute filed its motion seeking the discovery stay on Jan. 21.

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge is set to hear it Feb. 18.

The Fifth District Appellate Court denied Heartland's discovery stay appeal on Jan. 13.

According to Heartland Institute's motion, it is now seeking to appeal to the Illinois State Supreme Court.

But it wants a halt to discovery in the Madison County suit first.

"This stay is warranted because without one, Heartland will be required to produce the protected information; thus any First Amendment privileges Heartland possesses will be destroyed," the motion alleges.

Heartland has been fighting discovery requests made by lead plaintiff Holidays Shores Sanitary District since June 2010.

Holiday Shores is seeking documents from the institute in its fight with Syngenta Crop Protection Inc., the primary maker of atrazine.

Holiday Shores proposes to lead a series of class actions against the makers and distributors of the herbicide atrazine.

The classes in the suits, if certified, would include Illinois municipalities and water providers.

The plaintiffs contend that atrazine runs off farm fields into their drinking water supplies and that they must remediate it.

The 2004 suits sparked a nearly identical federal class action that could include water providers in multiple states last year.

That case is led by the city of Greenville.

It is pending in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

The Holiday Shores suit is currently in the discovery phase.

Discovery hit a snag last year when Holiday Shores subpoenaed a number of non-parties to the suit including Heartland.

Over the course of several hearings, Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder attempted to balance Holiday Shores' discovery interests with First Amendment right to association privileges claimed by the non-parties and Syngenta.

Eventually, Holiday Shores, Syngenta and Heartland asked Crowder to certify questions for appeal in October 2010.

But a move to clarify a September 2010 discovery order that set the appeals in place filed by Dr. Don Coursey of the University of Chicago, another third party in the case, is also pending.

Mudge took over the case from Crowder when she became Madison County's asbestos judge last year.

Steven Tillery, Christie Deaton and others represent Holiday Shores. They also represent Greenville in the federal suit.

Kurtis Reeg represents Syngenta. Reeg is also one of Syngenta's defense team members in the federal suit.

C. Raymond Bell represents Heartland.

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

The atrazine class actions are Madison case numbers 04-L-708 to 04-L-

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