U.S. District Court Judge J. Phil Gilbert has given the parties in a proposed federal class action suit over the weed killer atrazine more time to prepare to argue a motion to dismiss the suit for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Gilbert entered that order Dec. 14.
In it, Gilbert gives lead plaintiff, the city of Greenville, Ill., until Dec. 17 to respond to the motion to dismiss filed by defendants Syngenta AG and Sygenta Crop Protection Inc.
The defense then has until Jan. 17, 2011 to file its reply to the response.
Greenville proposes to lead a class of municipalities and water providers in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and other states against the two companies, claiming that atrazine runs off farm fields and contaminates drinking water that the plaintiffs then must remediate.
The claims are nearly identical to a series of state class actions filed against Syngenta and the other makers of atrazine in Madison County.
Those suits have been pending since 2004 although they are currently in the discovery phase.
The same team of attorneys that filed the Madison County suits – Stephen Tillery, Christie Deaton and others – filed the Greenville case earlier this year.
The Syngenta defendants have been actively fighting both the Madison County and federal suit.
The Madison County suit is currently with the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon on issues related to a discovery involving non-parties to the suit.
Syngenta AG, the parent company of the other Syngenta defendant, filed its motion to dismiss the federal suit for lack of personal jurisdiction in May.
In that motion, the Syngenta claims that because it is a company
based in Switzerland, ordering it to defend a suit in the Illinois federal court would violate due process.
It points to its dismissal from a previous federal case on the same grounds of lack of personal jurisdiction.
It contends that Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. has appeared and is the more appropriate defendant to act in the federal suit.
Kurtis Reeg and others represent Syngenta in both the federal and
Madison County cases.
Tillery and his team represent the plaintiffs in the federal case and the plaintiffs in the Madison County cases.
The original lead plaintiff in the Madison County suit is the Holiday Shores Sanitary District.
The federal suit was filed in the Southern District of Illinois.
The federal suit case number is 10-188-JPG-PMF.
The underlying Madison County Sygnenta class action is case number 04-L-710.
The atrazine class actions still pending in Madison County are case numbers 04-L-708 to 04-L-713.