Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge is set to hear a plea by a non-party to a proposed class action centered on a common weed killer.

Mudge will hear a move by the Heartland Institute that seeks to stay discovery in the suit against Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. while it appeals to the Illinois State Supreme Court on a discovery issue.

The hearing is set at 9 a.m. on Feb. 18.

The lead plaintiff in the suit, Holiday Shores Sanitary District, is attempting to discover documents related to the herbicide atrazine and communications between Heartland and Syngenta.

The attempt is one of a number of disputed discovery requests Holiday Shores made to Heartland and other non-parties in the case including chemical industry trade groups and the Illinois Farm Bureau.

Holiday Shores proposes to lead a class of Illinois municipalities and water providers against Syngenta and other atrazine makers over alleged water contamination.

The Syngenta case is one of six proposed class actions filed by Holiday Shores in 2004.

The plaintiffs allege in their suits that atrazine runs off farm fields into their drinking water supplies. They claim they must then remediate the contamination.

The six 2004 cases preceded a nearly identical federal class action filed last year in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

That suit, led by the City of Greenville, Ill., was filed by Holiday Shores' attorneys Stephen Tillery, Christie Deaton and Christine Moody. Defendants include Syngenta and its Swiss parent company.

If it is certified, it would include a class of plaintiffs from Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Ohio and other states.

The federal case is now set for a settlement conference in April.

After then-presiding judge Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder ruled on the non-party discovery requests last year, the parties took the issue to the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon.

The appellate court denied Heartland's appeal.

The institute is asking Mudge to halt the Madison County discovery while it takes its plea to a higher court.

The Syngenta case is the only one of the 2004 class actions to make headway to date.

Mudge took over the atrazine class actions when Crowder became Madison County's asbestos judge last year following the retirement of Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

Ray Bell and Maureen Martin represent Heartland.

Tillery and his team represent Holiday Shores.

Kurtis Reeg represents Syngenta in both the state and federal cases.

The case is Madison case number 04-L-710.
The atrazine suits are case numbers 04-L-708 to 04-L-713.

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