Mudge allows plaintiffs to file exhibits under seal in Syngenta atrazine class action

Amelia Flood Jun. 13, 2011, 9:42am

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge has allowed the plaintiff in a series of proposed class actions involving the weed killer atrazine to file exhibits under seal.

Lead plaintiff Holiday Shores Sanitary District's exhibits are related to a sanctions move against defendant Syngenta Crop Protection. A motion hearing is scheduled at 9 a.m. on June 22.

Mudge gave the go ahead today, according to the case's docket sheet. But, a copy of the order allowing the sealed filings is not yet available in the case file.

Holiday Shores filed six class action suits seven years ago against Syngenta and other companies that make and/or distribute atrazine.

Atrazine is an herbicide often used by farmers. Plaintiffs claim that they are forced to remediate water contamination caused when atrazine runs off farm fields into their drinking water supplies.

If certified, Holiday Shores would lead a statewide class of water providers against Syngenta and the other defendants in the suits.

The Madison County cases also sparked a nearly identical multi-state class action last year.
Syngenta and its Swiss parent company are the defendants in the suit filed by the City of
Greenville in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

The Holiday Shores sanctions moves relate largely to the date that Syngenta retained a University of Chicago economist, Don Coursey, as an expert witness.

While Syngenta initially claimed that Coursey began work for it in 2006 and claimed privilege over his work from that time, the company later admitted it did not hire Coursey until 2009.

The plaintiffs also take issue with atrazine distribution data provided by Syngenta.

Although all of the Holiday Shores suits were filed in 2004, only the Syngenta case has made any substantive progress.

It has been plagued by discovery disputes since the process began in earnest two years ago.

Stephen Tillery, Christie Deaton, and others represent the plaintiffs in the Madison County and federal atrazine cases.

Kurtis Reeg is lead defense counsel for Syngenta in both the Madison County and federal suit.

None of the proposed atrazine class actions have been certified to date.

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

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