Paraquat Lawsuit – Parkinson’s Disease Injuries
The Paraquat lawsuits claim that the use of the herbicide Paraquat can cause Parkinson's disease. Claimants in these cases have filed lawsuits to recover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages in the form of Paraquat settlements or verdicts.
Our lawyers are accepting clients who have had significant exposure to the toxic herbicide and have developed Parkinson's Disease.
What are the Paraquat Lawsuits?
In September 2017, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of agricultural workers and farmers who were exposed to Paraquat and developed Parkinson's disease. The plaintiffs claim their Parkinson's disease came about after many years of exposure to the herbicide. They also claim the defendants sold Paraquat for the purpose of killing weeds, even though the companies knew the chemicals cause disease to humans.
Plaintiffs are pursuing personal injury, product liability, and negligence claims. Most of these plaintiffs were licensed applicators of the herbicide or worked in a place where Paraquat was applied. In some cases, individuals claim to have suffered the effects of Paraquat by living close to an area that used the herbicide.
Defendants in the lawsuits include Syngenta, which makes the herbicide, and Chevron, which distributes it. The Paraquat lawsuits allege that the herbicide makers failed to warn of the product's risks, including how Paraquat increases the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
Paraquat Class Action Lawsuit MDL
The Paraquat exposure lawsuits are not joined as a class action lawsuit, where plaintiffs voluntarily consolidate their cases. Rather, these lawsuits are consolidated in a Paraquat MDL. This means that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that these cases be transferred to a single court and consolidated for the purpose of discovery and pretrial hearings. This type of consolidation streamlines the legal process in situations where issues of fact are common across multiple cases.
In June 2021, an MDL for Paraquat was formed. As a result, all federal cases involving Paraquat were transferred to the Southern District of Illinois to be heard before Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel. Our law firm is serving on the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee for the MDL. As of September 15, 2022, more than 1,925 lawsuits are pending in the MDL.
The creation of an MDL is the first step in the litigation process that starts the settlement negotiations. Once the MDL has been formed, the discovery of the facts and trials can begin. This then leads to serious settlement discussions.
Paraquat Lawsuits Settlement Amounts
The Paraquat MDL is relatively new, and no mass settlements have been reached as of today. In terms of the compensation you can get for your Paraquat settlement or verdict, please know that every case is different, depending on how your Paraquat-caused Parkinson's disease has affected you.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after having significant exposure to Paraquat, then we will seek the following damages on your behalf:
- Past and future medical expenses stemming from Paraquat-caused Parkinson's injuries
- Past and future pain and suffering (physical and mental) caused by the injuries, as well as the treatment and recovery process
- Past and future loss of wages (and loss of estate, in case of death)
- Past and future loss of capacity to earn
- Past and future diminished enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages, if appropriate
Our law firm has been in existence for more than 65 years, and is considered a national leader in this type of litigation. We have received well over 150 jury verdicts throughout the country in the amount of $1 million or more, and achieved verdicts and settlements in excess of $30 billion.
We have been appointed to the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee by the judge overseeing the federal lawsuits involving Paraquat. This means that we are directly involved in the national investigation and discovery that will hopefully result in a positive outcome for the individuals injured by this product.
We are one of the six law firms that first exposed the dangers of DuPont's chemical C8, and reached a $670 million settlement with the company on behalf of those injured as a result of C8 being dumped into the Ohio River and the air in West Virginia.
We are the founder of Mass Torts Made Perfect, which is a national seminar attended by approximately 1000 lawyers twice per year where we help teach the successful handling of lawsuits against the largest companies in the world. For more information, please visit our About Us section.
Our lawyers provide absolutely free confidential consultations, and if we are fortunate enough for you to hire us, we never will charge you any fees or costs unless you first recover.
The contingency fee we charge ranges from 20% to 40% depending upon how much we recover for you. To review a summary of our fees and costs, click Fees & Costs.
To contact us for a free consult, you can call us at (800) 277-1193. You also can request a consultation by clicking Free & Confidential Paraquat Consultation Form, which form will be immediately reviewed by one of our attorneys handling the Paraquat litigation.
Ways You Can Experience Paraquat Exposure
Most Paraquat exposure occurs by swallowing the herbicide. However, it is possible to experience skin exposure, which over an extended period of time, can lead to poisoning. Paraquat poisoning also occurs if the amount ingested is particularly concentrated or if it enters through broken skin.
In addition, the herbicide can also cause poisoning when it is inhaled. This type of exposure can lead to lung damage, as well as Parkinson's.
According to the CDC, the people who are most at risk for exposure are licensed applicators of Paraquat.
Symptoms of Exposure to Paraquat
The CDC reports several immediate signs and symptoms of Paraquat exposure. These include:
- Pain and swelling of the mouth and throat (after ingesting)
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea
- Low sodium or potassium
- Low blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Scarring of the lung
- Acute kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Heart injury
- Fast heart rate
- Weakened muscles
- Fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema)
- Respiratory failure
The CDC states that a person who ingests large amounts of Paraquat will probably not survive.
Paraquat Lawsuit Updates
January 28, 2023
U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Illinois Nancy Rosentengel delayed the first Paraquat bellwether trial in the Paraquat MDL. Originally slated for November 2022, the trial will now take place in October 2023. The Paraquat Parkinson’s risk cases against Syngenta and Chevron have been centralized in Rosentengel’s court for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings since June 2021. Several factors—including hurricanes and the pandemic--contributed to the judge pushing back the first bellwether trial in this MDL. [U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois]
Paraquat cases have also been filed in California under a Judicial Council coordinated Proceeding (JCCP), under Judge Treat in Contra Costa County. A trial date has been set for September 5, 2023.
December 15, 2022
U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois issued an order resetting expert deadlines, dispositive motion deadlines, and trial date as follows:
- December 23, 2022: Defendants shall provide Plaintiffs with a list of all experts and dates for their experts’ depositions.
- January 6, 2023 (on or before): Defendants shall complete depositions of Plaintiffs’ experts.
- January 20, 2023: Defendants’ experts’ reports shall be disclosed.
- February 24, 2023: Plaintiffs to complete depositions of Defendants’ experts.
- March 3, 2023: Plaintiffs shall disclose rebuttal experts.
- March 20, 2023: Defendants shall complete depositions of Plaintiffs’ rebuttal experts.
The following are dates for summary judgment and Daubert motions and a hearing on them:
- April 17, 2023 (on or before): Summary judgment and Daubert motions shall be filed.
- May 17, 2023 (on or before): Responses to summary judgment and Daubert motions shall be filed.
- May 31, 2023 (on or before): Replies regarding summary judgment and Daubert motions shall be filed.
- June 26, 2023, at 9 a.m.: A hearing on summary judgment and Daubert motions will begin in the East St. Louis Courthouse.
- October 3, 2023 at 9:30 a.m.: A final pretrial conference will be held. A separate order will set deadlines related to motions in limine, deposition designations, witness and exhibit lists, and jury instructions once the first trial case is selected.
- October 16, 2023: Jury trial in the first trial selection case 2 will begin at 9:00 a.m.
[U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois]
November 11, 2022
The New Lede opened the “Paraquat Papers,” a treasure trove of internal documents showing that Syngenta knew for decades that paraquat could trigger effects—including tremors and other central nervous system impairments—associated with Parkinson’s disease. The documents contradict the Swiss chemical giant’s repeated claims that scientific evidence proves its herbicide does not cause this disease. As far back as the mid-1970s, it appears that various Syngenta insiders, including scientists, had concerns that the company could be exposed to legal liability from paraquat’s effects, such as Parkinson’s disease. According to the Environmental Working Group, Syngenta concealed this information from regulators in an effort to protect sales of the popular weedkiller. [Environmental Working Group]
October 21, 2022
Ron Niebruegge, an Illinois farmer, received his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis at the age of 55. He is suing Syngenta AG, maker of the popular herbicide Paraquat, alleging that the company’s product caused his Parkinson’s disease. Internal documents from Syngenta AG, maker of the popular herbicide Paraquat, show that the company had concerns about legal liability for the long-term chronic effects of Paraquat since 1975. In fact, Syngenta’s lawyers had already begun preparing their legal defense years prior to the lawsuit being filed. [The Guardian]
September 26, 2022
The EPA petitioned the Ninth Circuit to let the agency review its decision to reapprove Paraquat use. The request is in response to lawsuits filed against the EPA by environmental, farmworker, and health advocacy groups. In particular, the agency hopes to reconsider aspects of its interim registration review decision for Paraquat, which would include the risk-benefit balancing calculation. [Law 360]
September 23, 2022
Plaintiffs in the Paraquat MDL pushed for sanctions against Chevron attorney Sharyl A. Reisman of Jones Day, alleging the lawyer obstructed a deposition and coached a witness. The motion for sanctions alleges Day instructed a witness, Chevron toxicologist Richard Cavalli, to not answer questions surrounding meetings with Chevron’s lawyers or documents used in preparation for the deposition. Such communications would not be protected by privilege because Cavalli had also been called as a non-retained expert witness. The plaintiffs assert that as a hybrid witness—one that sits squarely between a fact witness and an expert witness—Cavalli would not be entitled to withhold communications or documents. [Law 360]
June 17, 2022
More than 1,900 Paraquat lawsuits are pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. On this date, Judge Rosentengel, the Judge in the Paraquat MDL, amended the Discovery schedule. The new schedule extends multiple deadlines resulting in a delay of the first Paraquat bellwether trial. The trial had been slated to start on November 15, 2022. This order will not affect the number of cases in the trial pool.
May 26, 2022
Multiple environmental, health, and farmworker advocacy groups allege that the EPA's approval of Paraquat was unlawful because the approval disregarded the fact that the herbicide could cause Parkinson's disease, other diseases, and death. The Center for Biological Diversity, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Farmworker Justice, and other groups advised the Ninth Circuit that the EPA's Paraquat registration violates the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, which requires the government to establish that herbicides meet the standard of not causing "unreasonable adverse effects" to humans or the environment.
April 1, 2022
BBC News reports that as United States agricultural workers push through Paraquat litigation, British farmers have called for a ban on the production of the toxic herbicide in the UK. The farmworkers urged this action based on studies linking the popular weedkiller to Parkinson's Disease. (BBC News)
March 21, 2022
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois Chief Judge Rosentengel issued an amended protocol for the selection of bellwether trial cases, ordering that limited fact discovery for the 16 selected trial cases be completed by March 31, 2022. Parties are to rank the 16 cases in order of preference by April 8, 2022. (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois)
February 14, 2022
A federal judge in Southern Illinois ruled that hundreds of lawsuits against Syngenta Corp and Chevron USA will move forward in the Paraquat multidistrict litigation (MDL). Chief U.S. District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel denied the defendants' motions to dismiss claims for strict product liability, negligence, breach of implied warranty, and violation of several states' consumer protection laws. The federal judge did, however, reject the plaintiffs' public nuisance count (Reuters).
November 22, 2021
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., presented a bill that would ban the use of Paraquat herbicides, neonicotinoid insecticides, and organophosphate insecticides. This legislation would update the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act of 1972, or FIFRA, and beef up safety measures for agricultural workers through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
April 12, 2021
Plaintiffs in federal lawsuits against Syngenta and Chevron ask the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate cases for pretrial proceedings. Currently, a minimum of 14 lawsuits are spread across six different federal district courts. All complaints allege that exposure to the toxic weedkiller caused plaintiffs to develop Parkinson's Disease.
Timeline Of Research Showing the Effects of Paraquat Exposure
Over the past 20 years, the scientific community has stepped up its examination of the effects of Paraquat exposure on humans--and specifically the risk of Parkinson's disease.
1980s: MPTP-Parkinson's Experiment
An experiment in Southern California revealed that MPTP, a heroin contaminant, caused users to suffer symptoms like those associated with Parkinson's disease. The experiment showed that the heroin contaminant destroyed dopamine neurons, the same neurons that suffer damage in Parkinson's disease patients. MPTP and Paraquat share similar chemical structures.
1997: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA announced that exposure to Paraquat during the mixing, loading, and application of the herbicide and the post-application process represented the primary route of exposure to the chemical compound. The agency further suggested that despite the herbicide not being registered for residential use, such exposure is possible for individuals who live near farms where the herbicide is utilized.
2009: American Journal of Epidemiology
Revealed that any exposure to Paraquat within 1,600 feet of a home resulted in a heightened Parkinson's disease risk of 75 percent.
2011: Environmental Health Perspectives, in association with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
A robust study of Parkinson's disease cases and pesticides. Within this study, the Paraquat herbicide emerged as a significant concern. Parkinson's disease was connected to groups of pesticides that block mitochondrial complex and those that cause oxidative stress. Paraquat works by producing intracellular molecules that damage cells by causing oxidative stress.
The study concluded that "Parkinson's disease was strongly associated with" Paraquat. The authors further underscored that the potential for exposure to Paraquat reaches beyond the occupational/agricultural environment and that many people may be exposed to the pesticide without even being aware of its presence in their environments.
2014: Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Published findings related to Environmental Toxins and Parkinson's Disease. The review reported five case-control studies that revealed a greater risk of Parkinson's disease in individuals who had experienced exposure to Paraquat. Pesticide applicators who had applied Paraquat suffered twice the risk of Parkinson's disease than the general population.
The review also highlighted a marked increased risk of Parkinson's disease in people who had been exposed to both Paraquat and a certain type of fungicide called fungicide maneb. Finally, study participants who lacked an active copy of a specific gene (missing in 20 percent of Caucasians and 40 percent of Asians) suffered a heightened risk of Paraquat toxicity.
2016: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA announced plans to re-evaluate Paraquat, including the herbicide's potential link to Parkinson's disease.
2017: Unified Parkinson's Advocacy Council
On July 24, 2017, the Unified Parkinson's Advocacy Council sent a letter to the EPA, in advance of the agency's Paraquat registration review. The letter, signed by all members of the council, listed a laundry list of facts that connect Paraquat with the development of Parkinson's disease symptoms and pathology and concluded by urging the EPA to deny Paraquat's reregistration.
The letter further emphasized the economic costs to a person suffering from Parkinson's disease, including:
- $26,400 per year of individual care for a person with Parkinson's disease
- $19.8 to $26.4 billion annual economic burden in the U.S
- Costs associated with reliance on programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security Disability Insurance
2017: Farmers & Agricultural Workers Exposed to Paraquat File Lawsuit
On October 6, 2017, a lawsuit was filed against Syngenta and Growmark, the manufacturers of Paraquat. The complaint was filed on behalf of farmers and agricultural workers who had developed Parkinson's disease after being exposed to Paraquat. Since the filing of the original claim, Chevron Chemical has been added as a defendant to the lawsuit.
2018: U.S. HHS Announces Review of Paraquat-Parkinson’s Link
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Toxicology Program (NTP) announced its protocol for a review of Paraquat dichloride exposure and Parkinson's disease. Acknowledging that hundreds of studies had investigated the link between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson's Disease, the review attempted to map evidence that associates the herbicide with Parkinson's disease.
2019: Report Shows Increased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease After Paraquat Exposure
A study published in September 2019 in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health supports earlier research showing the link between Paraquat exposure and the development of Parkinson's disease. According to the 2019 report, the occurrence of Parkinson's disease was found to be 25 percent greater in participants who had been exposed to the herbicide.
2021: Paraquat Lawsuit Against Syngenta & Chevron Alleging Paraquat Exposure Caused Kidney Failure
In February 2021, Ellis Pratt filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. According to the complaint, the plaintiff had been regularly exposed to Paraquat while he worked mixing the herbicide and applying it to crops on farmland. From 1964 to 1974, Pratt endured this exposure, often coming into contact with the herbicide on his skin. He did not know of the danger of this exposure.
After suffering multiple symptoms, the plaintiff was officially diagnosed with kidney disease in 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that once Paraquat enters the human body, it can travel to several areas and cause toxic chemical reactions. Included in the CDC advisory is the fact that ingesting even small to medium amounts of the herbicide can cause kidney failure.
Pratt's complaint alleges that the defendants—Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC., Syngenta AG, and Chevron U.S.A., Inc.—either knew or should have known of the risk of harm Paraquat promotes.
2021: Plaintiff Files Lawsuit in Federal Court Alleging Paraquat Caused His Parkinson's Disease
In another lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on May 2021, plaintiff Edwin Edwards asserted similar claims. Edwards applied Paraquat as an herbicide starting in 1975 and suffered repeated exposure to the substance. He also inhaled, ingested, and absorbed the herbicide into his body. Edwards was later diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
2021: Couple Sues for Husband's Parkinson's Damages After Exposure to Paraquat on Railroad
In June 2021, a couple from Fort Worth, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the same defendants. According to the complaint, the plaintiff David Tackel was exposed to Paraquat as part of his job on the Rock Island Railroad in 1970.
The plaintiff regularly distributed the herbicide around the railroad bridges. In his later role as water engineer for the railroad, Tackel worked in a 10' x 12' room where Paraquat was stored. The plaintiff was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
He accuses the defendants of making, marketing, and selling a product that they knew causes Parkinson's disease and of deliberately concealing the risks of the herbicide and hiding evidence of its dangers from government safety agencies.
What Is Paraquat?
Paraquat, also known as paraquat dichloride, is a chemical compound that has been used as an herbicide since the 1950s. It has been commercially available since 1962. Today, Paraquat is one of the most widely used herbicides around the world. The herbicide is used to control weeds and as a post-harvest drying agent.
The chemical compound is so highly poisonous that in the U.S. it is marketed with a blue dye. This is to prevent it from being confused with coffee or other beverages. The herbicide is also given a sharp odor and a vomit-inducing agent in case someone drinks it. However, these safeguards are not always available in Paraquat outside the U.S.
As a restricted-use herbicide, Paraquat can be mixed, loaded, and/or applied only by individuals who have completed an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved training program. The herbicide is associated with a high potential for misuse, as well as poisoning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) follows Paraquat because the agency considers it to be more toxic than other herbicides. The chemical's toxicity manifests through ingestion, skin-absorption, and inhalation. Besides causing burns, the herbicide is known as a possible cause of birth defects and cancer, as well as Parkinson's Disease.
According to a June 2019 article in Environmental Health, Paraquat is one of only two herbicides still being used in the U.S. that have already been banned or are in the process of being phased out in China, EU, and Brazil.
How Is Paraquat Used?
Licensed Paraquat applicators apply the weedkiller directly to plants as a spray that kills the leaves with direct contact. The compound is inactivated when it makes contact with soil. Although commonly used to kill weeds and grass, Paraquat can also be sprayed on other crops. Examples include:
The pesticide is sprayed as a mechanism for clearing fields before crops are planted, as well as for the purpose of destroying marijuana crops in Mexico and the U.S. According to the Unified Parkinson's Advisory Council, Paraquat is also used as an herbicide for weeds that have developed a resistance to Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides.
With $640 million in global sales reported in 2011, the use of Paraquat has recently been experiencing a sales increase as a result of the rise in high-profile Roundup lawsuits, as well as an increase in the number of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
What Is Parkinson's Disease?
Parkinson's disease is a disabling neurodegenerative disorder with a human onset in the mid to later years in life.
Health Risks of Parkinson's
Effects to the motor system include:
- Tremors in the arms and legs
- Impaired coordination and balance
- Movement disorders
- Slow movements
- Rigidity of the body and limbs
Such effects are attributed to the progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the brain.
Developing Parkinson's Has Become Increasingly Common
In the realm of neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinson's disease is the second most common. The disease is chronic and progressive, with only partial relief of symptoms from today's medical therapies. As the world is experiencing an increasingly aging population, we have seen a greater prevalence of Parkinson's disease, particularly in relatively newer developed countries, like India and China.
Known Causes of Parkinson's
Genetic factors play a causal role in a small percentage of Parkinson's disease cases, but the main cause of Parkinson's disease has remained a mystery for years. In relatively recent years, an increasing number of scientific studies have connected Parkinson's disease to environmental exposures, such as pesticides.
Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
There is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, according to Mayo Clinic. However, treatments do exist for the management of symptoms.
Common Parkinson’s Disease Medications
Besides physical therapy and speech therapy, Parkinson’s patients can take medications to help with their lowered dopamine levels. These medications include:
- Adenosine receptor antagonists (A2A receptor antagonist)
- Carbidopa-levodopa infusion
- Catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors
- Dopamine agonists
- Inhaled carbidopa-levodopa
- MAO B inhibitors
- Nuplazid (Pimavanserin)
In cases of advanced Parkinson’s disease in which patients do not respond well to levodopa, medical providers might offer deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a treatment. This surgery involves implanting electrodes into certain areas of the brain. The electrodes connect to a generator in the patient’s chest that transmits electrical pulses to the brain with the intended effect of ameliorating the patient’s Parkinson’s symptoms, such as:
- Involuntary movements
The disease continues to progress, despite the alleviation of these symptoms.