BENTON – Class action lawyers suing manufacturers of weed killer atrazine in federal court added a federal judge's wife to their legal team this year.

Patricia Murphy of Energy, spouse of District Judge Patrick Murphy, entered her appearance in the suit against Syngenta AG and Syngenta Crop Protection in March.

In June, she filed a motion to conduct discovery on the court's jurisdiction over Syngenta AG.

District Judge Philip Frazier granted the motion on June 29, finding it would help him resolve an argument Syngenta AG raised in a motion to dismiss the suit.

"In particular, limited discovery will allow the court to evaluate Syngenta AG's presence in Illinois and any business activities in Illinois," he wrote.

He also granted discovery with Syngenta Crop Protection, "to explore the nature and extent of any agency relationship between the defendants."

The suit seeks to compel the Syngenta companies to pay for removal of atrazine from water supplies.

Thirteen cities in five states, four villages in two states, a rural water district and five private water companies filed the suit earlier this year.

They seek to represent a class of all suppliers with atrazine in their water.

Stephen Tillery of St. Louis leads the plaintiff team in association with Scott Summy of Baron and Budd in Houston.

The suit resembles one Tillery filed in Madison County in 2004, along with four more against other atrazine makers.

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