Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder signed an order Sept. 29 sending the last two proposed atrazine class action cases pending against United Agri-Products Inc. and Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

The suits, two of a series filed by lead plaintiff Holiday Shores Sanitary District and various Illinois municipalities, contend that atrazine runs off farm fields and contaminates their drinking water supplies.

The plaintiffs propose to lead classes of other water providers against the makers and distributors of the herbicide.

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that atrazine up to three parts per billion is safe in drinking water, the plaintiffs allege that smaller amounts cause unspecified human health problems.

The defendants in the suits deny the claims and have actively tried to have the cases dismissed or stayed.

Those attempts have been unsuccessful.

Stack originally oversaw all of the atrazine cases.

Crowder took them over last year.

All but the United Agri-Products and Syngenta suits went to Stack when the rest of Crowder's civil docket was transferred to him Aug. 1.

Crowder had matters under advisement in both cases until recently.

She had motions by a number of third parties under advisement in the Syngenta suit.

In that case, the third parties including the Illinois Farm Bureau, the University of Chicago, and others objected to deposition and discovery requests made by the plaintiffs.

Crowder upheld some of their objections on First Amendment grounds
and denied others.

That order was entered shortly before a hearing on dueling motions to compel was canceled last week.

In the United Agri-Products case, Crowder ruled Aug. 31 on its motion to dismiss the suit against it for lack of personal jurisidiction.

Crowder found that the Illinois "Long Arm" statute applied to the Delaware company and that affidavits from its own employees indicated that the company was actively doing business in Illinois.

She denied the motion.

Kurtis Reeg represents both Syngenta and United Agri-Products.

Stephen Tillery represents Holiday Shores and the proposed classes in all of the atrazine suits and a proposed water provider class in a nearly identical suit filed against Syngenta in the U.S. Southern District of Illinois.

The atrazine cases are Madison case numbers 04-L-708 to 04-L-713.

The United Agri-Products case is case number 04-L-711.

The Syngenta suit is case number 04-L-710.

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Organizations in this Story

Syngenta The University of Chicago U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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