Gilbert gives Tillery another 28 days to answer Syngenta's summary judgment motion

Ann Maher Mar. 1, 2012, 6:00am


U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert has granted a 28-day stay in proceedings and deadlines in a proposed class action against Syngenta Crop Protection and Syngenta AG.

Municipalities and water suppliers in six Mid-Western states sued the companies in 2010 seeking complete removal of the weedkiller atrazine from their drinking water at Syngenta's expense.

The proposed class is represented by St. Louis attorney Stephen Tillery.

Facing a March 1 deadline to respond to Syngenta's months-old motion for summary judgment, plaintiffs -the City of Greenville and the City of Marion, Kan. - asked for and were granted a new deadline of March 29 to answer.

In Syngenta's motion for summary filed on Nov. 30, attorney Kurtis Reeg pointed to a contradiction: the City of Greenville assures its customers they can safely drink the water, yet it proposes to lead a class action that claims atrazine contaminates the local reservoir.

"Greenville never warned its customers that its water was unsafe nor did it order them to stop drinking the water because of the presence of atrazine in the water," Reeg wrote in the motion for summary judgment.

"Greenville also never warned its customers that the atrazine in Greenville's water posed a health risk," he wrote.

Reeg wrote that the city sends out consumer confidence reports representing that it takes efforts to provide safe drinking water.

He attached a table of quarterly tests showing the city hasn't come close to a federal safety standard of three parts per billion since 1994.

The table shows the city detected no atrazine in the last 10 quarters, meaning the concentration didn't reach three parts per 10 billion.

"Other than its attorneys, no one has told Greenville that atrazine concentrations of less than three parts per billion in its water pose a health risk," Reeg wrote.

Gilbert has twice granted plaintiffs' motions for extension of time to respond.

In Gilbert's recent order, he also set numerous other deadlines throughout the year.

All discovery is to be completed by Nov. 5. All dispositive motions must be filed by Nov. 19.

The federal class action mirrors six proposed state class actions in Madison County.

Tillery filed them in 2004 on behalf of Holiday Shores Sanitary District. Holiday Shores and the other plaintiffs allege that atrazine runs off farm fields into water supplies that the plaintiffs must then remediate.

None have been certified to date.

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