Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder will hear pending motions in a series of proposed class actions stemming from alleged water contamination by a common weed-killer.
In her May 3 order, Crowder set May 26 at 1:30 p.m. as the hearing date in six suits against makers and sellers of atrazine.
Lead plaintiff Holiday Shores Sanitation District, together with at least seven other named plaintiffs, claim atrazine runs off fields into their water supplies.
Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that atrazine is safe in drinking water up to three parts per billion, the plaintiffs contend that even smaller amounts cause medical problems in humans.
The plaintiffs seek unspecified relief and propose to lead a class of other water providers and municipalities.
Meanwhile, a federal suit filed by the plaintiffs' lead attorney, Stephen Tillery, over multi-state atrazine contamination claims, is also pending.
Most recently in the Madison County cases, Crowder denied a move by the defendants in the suits to split off the claims of Carlinville, Litchfield, Mount Olive, Hillsboro, Fairfield, Mattoon and Flora.
The defendants wanted the claims of those cities removed to their home counties.
The long-running cases have finally begun discovery after stalling nearly five years.
The cases had originally been assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.
Crowder inherited them last year.
In her May 3 order, Crowder wrote that she will hear the motions in the various cases by case number or at her discretion. The May 26 date also is set as a case management conference in the suits.
The defendants and their representation are as follows:
Sipcam Agro USA is represented by Geoffrey Bryce.
Growmark and Dow Chemical Company are represented by Robert Shultz Jr.
Syngenta is represented by Kurtis Reeg.
United Agri-Products Inc. is represented by Reeg in a special limited appearance.
Drexel Chemical Company is represented by Daniel Cray.
Makhteshim-Agan of North America is represented by Russell Scott.
The atrazine cases are Madison case numbers 04-L-708 to 04-L-713.