Ann Maher Jun. 19, 2013, 5:41pm
In the wake of a $105 million settlement reached last October with makers of atrazine, St. Louis attorney Steven Tillery is reportedly preparing to file new litigation on a theory that the herbicide causes birth defects.
An article published June 17 in Environmental Health News, “Special Report: Syngenta’s campaign to protect atrazine, discredit critics,” says Tillery has “shifted his strategy” with plans to file individual cases on behalf of children with birth defects.
Tillery sued manufacturers in federal court in 2010 on behalf of municipalities and water providers in six states, including Illinois, claiming atrazine had entered their water supplies and forced them to incur costs associated with testing, monitoring and filtering their water. The federal court litigation was preceded by six class actions Tillery filed in Madison County in 2004 alleging similar damages.
The federal case proceeded to settlement, in which defendants, Syngenta Crop Protection and Syngenta AG, did not admit liability. The companies said they settled “in order to avoid further business uncertainty and expense of protracted litigation.”
Tillery and his team of attorneys earned more than $30 million in fees.
The Environmental Health News article details what it says was Syngenta’s “multi-million dollar campaign that included hiring a detective agency to investigate scientists on a federal advisory panel, looking into the personal life of a judge and commissioning a psychological profile of a leading scientist critical of atrazine.”
Syngenta, in response, posted on the site atrazinefacts.com that the article “is a work of advocacy, not journalism.”
“It was written as part of a new effort on the part of plaintiffs’ attorneys reported to be planning future litigation.”