Tillery seeks at least $18K in fees from third party to litigation - University of Chicago

Ann Maher Jun. 28, 2012, 10:30am



An attorney who will share close to $35 million in fees by way of a recent class action settlement in federal court, is seeking at least $18,000 in fees from the University of Chicago in related state court litigation.

Stephen Tillery filed a motion for reimbursement of costs and attorneys fees in an eight-year-old Madison County class action case against Syngenta Crop Protection involving the weed killer atrazine.

In the filing, Tillery also responded to the University which has a pending motion seeking in excess of $5,700 for the costs it claims it incurred for searching, compiling and producing documents to plaintiffs.

The University of Chicago and its scientist Don Coursey, who was hired as an expert by Syngenta, were brought into the litigation as third parties. For years, they fought Tillery's discovery requests.

In a motion filed June 21, Tillery chided the University for being "uncooperative" by delaying production of subpoenaed documents.

He seeks reimbursement on grounds that the University repeatedly filed motions without substantial justification and for its "significant" delay in conducting a search and compiling responsive documents.

"But for the University's lack of cooperation and unjustified habitual defiance, it would not have undertaken seven months to compile 952 documents," Tillery's motion states.

"[P]laintiffs should not be forced to pay thousands of dollars to cover the University's irresponsible inaction and delay," Tillery wrote. "The University created their own circumstances and now must be held accountable, not plaintiffs."

On May 24, Syngenta Crop Protection and Syngenta AG, leading producers of atrazine, agreed to a $105 million settlement to resolve claims of water providers in a federal class action that arose from the Madison County cases. The plaintiffs alleged that atrazine continuously entered their water supplies and that they have had to test and monitor their water supplies for atrazine, as well as to install, operate, and maintain systems to filter atrazine.

Tillery and attorneys from Baron and Budd in Dallas will share $34.9 million in fees as a result of that proposed settlement.

A footnote to the $18,050 in fees Tillery seeks from the University, states that the figure does not include "Mr. Steve Tillery's time, nor does it include paralegal time."

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge presides over six separate proposed atrazine class actions filed by Tillery in 2004 on behalf of Holiday Shores Sanitary District and against various manufacturers of atrazine.

Mudge has scheduled a hearing on July 26 on both the University's and Tillery's motions.

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