Deferral decision on 'relating back' critical in atrazine suits

By Steve Korris | Nov 25, 2009

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder ended months of suspense by approving expansion of water contamination claims against makers of weed killer atrazine, but suspense remains over the statute of limitations.

Crowder's Nov. 20 order allowing Stephen Tillery to amend five year old complaints did not declare that his new claims relate back to his original claims.

Tillery sought the declaration because it would eliminate statute of limitation defenses.

Crowder deferred a decision, as atrazine makers had urged her to do.

They want her to wait until they have completed discovery and she has considered the entire record.

"Plaintiff is seeking a finding of relation back because otherwise these new plaintiffs would likely be barred from bringing suit based on the statute of limitations," Geoffrey Bryce of Chicago wrote for Sipcam Crop Protection on Oct. 2.

"Plaintiff's amendments add factual allegations and whole new theories of recovery that are in no way related to those in the prior complaints," he wrote.

"Plaintiff's amendments involve separate and distinct occurrences and injuries to different plaintiffs at different times and locations and to different degrees," he wrote.

"It would be inappropriate to find relation back where the new plaintiffs were not within the scope of the class as it has been unambiguously defined in the case for the past five years," he wrote.

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