$105 Million Atrazine Settlement in Korein Tillery Suits Shared by Public Water Systems in 45 States
"$105 Million Atrazine Settlement in Korein Tillery Suits Shared By Public Water Systems in 45 States
National Settlement Reimburses Public for Costs of Filtering Atrazine from Drinking Water for More than 52 Million Americans
(St. Louis, Missouri- Mary 25, 2012) (St. Louis, Missouri – May 25, 2012) A national settlement in federal and state classaction suits over contamination of drinking water by the weed killer Atrazine will distribute $105 million to community systems that deliver drinking water to more than 52 million Americans, lead plaintiffs’ lawyer Stephen M. Tillery of Korein Tillery LLC in St. Louis announced today.
Tillery said the settlement with Syngenta Corp. – the Swiss-based, multinational agrichemical company that manufactures and distributes Atrazine – was filed in federal court late yesterday. It will provide financial recoveries for costs that have been borne for decades by more than 1,887 community water systems (CWS) that provide drinking water more than one in six Americans across at least 45 states.
Comprehensive information on the debate about Atrazine can be found in a New York Times story that ran in 2009 and has been recognized as authoritative.
The individual amounts that eligible CWSs will recover will be calculated based on the levels of Atrazine and frequency of Atrazine contamination measured in the water of impacted CWSs and the population served by each CWS. Tillery said some 300 CWSs with the highest contamination levels will recover 100 percent of their costs.
“The scope of this historic settlement is enormous and its protection of the health of millions of Americans across the country is a huge benefit to the public, the environment, and the taxpayers,” Tillery said.
Former Chief Justice Michael Wolff of the Missouri Supreme Court, now a professor of law at St. Louis University, called the settlement a remarkable achievement that would have far-reaching impact on the safety and quality of the public drinking water across the country, as well as on the environment and on environmental law.
“I can’t think of many other law firms anywhere that would have had the expertise, the resources, the depth, or the endurance to fight for the safety of the American public’s drinking water for more than eight years and to wage this battle simultaneously on two fronts – in the state and federal courts,” Wolff said. “This settlement is just a remarkable achievement and an extraordinary benefit to the public and to communities across the country.”
Wolff noted that handling cases of this magnitude by a law firm requires thousands of hours of work by an army of attorneys and teams of expert document examiners that study millions of pages of complex, technical, and scientific reports and studies, and equal numbers of corporate documents from daily emails to internal reports. Law firms must consult with experts on the scientific facts and issues involved, highly specialized medical and research issues, federal and state regulations involving the use of chemicals, and, in this case, technical data about treatment and filtering of public drinking water.
“It’s a tremendously complex and intricate undertaking that requires high levels of expertise in the law and science, an unbelievable number of man hours, and huge expenditures by the law firm – all with the possibility of never recovering a single cent,” Wolff said. “But firms like Korein Tillery take on these kinds of cases because they are the only way that most plaintiffs can afford to get this level of expert legal representation to seek small recoveries that would not be economically feasible as individual cases.”
If finally approved by U.S District Judge J. Phil Gilbert in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, the settlement would end two class-action suits that Tillery filed against Syngenta: the federal suit in 2010 and an Illinois State Court action on behalf of Illinois water providers in 2004.
In the settlement, Syngenta expressly denies any liability for contamination of drinking water by Atrazine and any risk to public health from the herbicide. Atrazine is a widely used herbicide sprayed primarily on corn and sorghum fields..."