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More claimants seek to intervene in closed atrazine case; Lawyers say Jane Doe offspring suffered birth defects

By Steve Korris | Sep 12, 2013



BENTON – At least three more lawyers have moved to intervene in a closed class action involving the weed killer atrazine, following a tactic employed by Belleville attorney Robert Sprague.

Joseph Siprut and Gregg Barbakoff of Chicago moved to intervene on behalf of Jane Doe on Aug. 30; Michael Weilmuenster of Belleville moved to intervene in the action on behalf of Jane Doe on Sept. 9.

They all want confidential documents that St. Louis lawyer Stephen Tillery obtained from atrazine maker Syngenta Crop Protection and its Swiss owner, Syngenta AG.

They argue they can’t afford to repeat the discovery Sygenta produced to Tillery.

Sprague and Weilmuenster represent mothers claiming atrazine in drinking water caused the urethras of their sons to open from the wrong part of their penises.

Siprut and Barbakoff claim a mother with twins lost one and the other might not live.

They wrote that their client expected to give birth in September or October.

Sprague and Joseph Power of Chicago sued Syngenta for their Jane Doe on Aug. 14, in St. Clair County circuit court.

Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson sealed the file.

To obtain the documents, the plaintiffs must persuade U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert to modify a protective order from Tillery’s class action.

Gilbert can’t do it at the moment, for nature groups have challenged his protective order as intervenors in Tillery’s action at the Seventh Circuit appellate court in Chicago.

“Any disputes regarding the protective order must await a decision by the Court of appeals,” Gilbert wrote on Aug. 30.

Weilmuenster chose to file his motion anyway.

“Doe discovered a recent study that evaluated the relationship between residential atrazine exposure and risk for male genital malformations in offspring,” Weilmuenster wrote.

The study, according to Weilmuenster, found consistent associations between atrazine exposure and every male genital malformation category evaluated.

He wrote that the findings were consistent with previously published studies.

“Based on these studies, among other things, intervenors have reason to believe that Jane’s consumption of atrazine contaminated drinking water around the time of conception or during pregnancy was a substantial cause of intervenors’ injuries,” he wrote.

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