Syngenta answers amended complaint in federal atrazine class action

By Amelia Flood | Dec 8, 2010



EAST ST. LOUIS - Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. and its Swiss parent company have filed an answer in a proposed atrazine class action suit brought by the city of Greenville, denying they should be subject to Southern District of Illinois' jurisdiction.

The company, a leading maker of the popular weed killer, also argues that the complaint filed earlier this year by attorney Stephen Tillery uses vague terms and is not specific.

Greenville proposes to lead a class of water providers from Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and other states, claiming atrazine runs off farm fields and contaminates drinking water supplies.

In its answer, Syngenta also offers a number of affirmative defenses.

The company argues that many of the claims are barred by the doctrine of comparative fault, the economic loss doctrine and statutes of limitations.

Syngenta also argues that plaintiffs have not exhausted administrative remedies and that they cannot recover some damages, such as future damages, under the law.

The company also contends that the relief the plaintiffs seek is barred by the commerce clause of the United States Constitution.

Recently, several plaintiffs from Indiana were thrown out of the case after U.S. District Court Judge J. Phil Gilbert ruled that Indiana law did not provide them with a means of relief.

The federal suit claims damages in the case to be greater than $5 million.

The case is nearly identical to six state class actions currently pending in Madison County including one against Syngenta.

Those cases were filed six years ago by lead plaintiff Holiday Shores Sanitation District, and they are in an early discovery process.

While a case against Syngenta in Madison County has moved faster than its counterparts, it is currently at the appellate court in Mount Vernon due to discovery disputes among Holiday Shores, Syngenta and a number of non-parties to the case that were served with subpoenas.

None of the Madison County cases have been certified to date.

The same team of attorneys that represent Holiday Shores, including Tillery, represent Greenville and the proposed class.

Kurtis Reeg represents Syngenta in both suits.

The case number is 3:10 – cv-00188-JPG-PMF

The older Madison County suit is case number 04-L-708.

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