DALLAS - On Oct. 23, 2012, the law firm of Baron and Budd announced a $105 million settlement on behalf of more than 1,000 community water systems that have detected the chemical atrazine in their water supplies. On Nov. 27, the deadline to appeal the court's approval of this settlement expired and the settlement is now final.
This settlement concludes class action litigation that has been pending for more than eight years against Syngenta Crop Protection LLC and Syngenta AG, the chemical companies that produced and marketed atrazine and atrazine-containing materials. According to Baron and Budd, the water providers who will benefit from the settlement will likely receive their share of proceeds within approximately 60 days.
Atrazine, an agricultural herbicide widely used in the United States and particularly in the Midwest, is commonly used to control weeds in corn and soybean crops. Once applied, the chemical easily runs off into surface waters and drinking water supplies. As a result, many municipalities and water providers have detected atrazine in their water supplies and spent significant sums to remove it from finished water. The settlement will reimburse these costs to more than 1,000 water providers who serve water to more than 30 million Americans.
In 2004, a water provider filed a lawsuit in the Illinois state court system against Syngenta AG and Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. The water provider alleged that Syngenta knew atrazine would run off into surface water such as lakes, streams and rivers but decided to market the product with complete disregard for the expense water providers would ultimately pay to remove the dangerous chemical from the water before supplying it to consumers. In 2010, numerous other public drinking water providers filed a similar suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. After conclusive discovery and hard-hitting litigation, the parties reached a class action settlement.
"This settlement sends a message to chemical companies that they must bear the responsibility for products that contaminate water supplies and provides significant economic relief to water providers," said Baron and Budd Shareholder Scott Summy, who was appointed Class Counsel along with Steve Tillery of the Korein Tillery law firm in St. Louis.
The plaintiffs' law firm of Baron and Budd has long been on the frontline of environmental protection litigation. Summy, who is recognized nationally as one of the most experienced "water lawyers" in the country, leads the firm's water contamination group. He has been challenging America's oil and chemical industries in water contamination cases, successfully litigating and negotiating results for more than 200 water providers, municipalities and private well owners over the last 15 years. Other attorneys in the group are Shareholders Cary McDougal, Laura Baughman, Carla Burke, Celeste Evangelisti and Stephen Johnston, as well as Associates Cristina Sanchez and Mitchell McCrea, and Senior Paralegal Erin McIntosh.
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