Syngenta issues subpoenas to National Resources Defense Council, experts in state atrazine case

Amelia Flood Jun. 2, 2011, 7:13am


Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. has issued subpoenas to the National Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) and two of its experts in a proposed Madison County class action over the weed killer atrazine.

Syngenta subpoenaed the NRDC, Paul Rosenfeld of Santa Monica, Calif., and Frank Ackerman of Medford, Mass. on May 25.

The subpoenas come as discovery continues in the suit brought by lead plaintiff Holiday Shores Sanitary District and just under a month before the suit is due for hearing before Circuit Judge William Mudge.

Mudge is set to hear motions related to discovery disputes in the case on June 22.

Holiday Shores, represented by Stephen Tillery and others, proposes to lead a class of Illinois cities and other water providers against Syngenta and other companies that make or distribute atrazine.

The plaintiffs allege that atrazine runs off fields and contaminates drinking water supplies that the plaintiffs must then remediate.

Holiday Shores filed six suits over the claims against Syngenta, Growmark, Dow and other companies seven years ago.

Only the Sygnenta case has made any substantial headway.

The company denies the claims and has tried several times to have the case dismissed or stayed.

The Holiday Shores suit sparked a nearly identical federal class action last year led by the City of Greenville, Ill. Syngenta and its Swiss parent company are the defendants in the federal suit pending in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

None of the suits have been certified to date.

The most recent subpoena to the NRDC brings another environmental group in the mix of
the two Syngenta cases.

Syngenta is currently fighting the intervention of two environmental groups, the Environmental Law & Policy Center and the Prairie Rivers Network, in the Greenville case.

The two groups have sought to intervene in that suit and are asking the court to unseal documents related to a move filed by Syngenta's parent company, Syngenta AG, that would dismiss the counts against it for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Syngenta alleges the two groups are a "shill" for the plaintiffs.

The environmental groups have countered that Syngenta is "telling fanciful stories," about a non-existent connection between them and the Greenville plaintiffs.

Greenville also recently filed a move asking the federal court to unseal all of the documents related to the motion to dismiss due to what it claims is Syngenta's failure to comply with an Order to Show Cause entered in April.

The Madison County subpoena to the NRDC does not list details as to why the defendant is commanding testimony from the group.

Rosenfeld is a remediation specialist and environmental chemist. He is one of the principals of Soil/Water/Air Protection Enterprise, according to his Web site.

Ackerman is an economist at Tufts University who specializes in environmental policy, according to his profile found on the Web site for the Global Development and Environment Institute located at the university.

Syngenta is represented by Kurt Reeg.

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

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

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