Chevron Dismissed as Defendant in Parkinson’s Disease Lawsuits Alleging Paraquat Exposure After 1990
The U.S. District Judge presiding over all Parkinson’s disease lawsuits linked to Paraquat exposure brought throughout the federal court system has agreed to dismiss Chevron as a defendant from any cases involving use of the controversial weedkiller after 1990.
Paraquat was first introduced in the 1960s, and has been widely used on farms and throughout the agricultural industry. Although it is known to cause fatal poisoning if even a small amount is ingested, a growing number of farmers and farm workers now allege they developed Parkinson’s disease after spraying, mixing or handling the herbicide in the normal and recommended manner.
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Although Chevron and its subsidiaries manufactured and sold the herbicide for decades, the company stopped distributing Paraquat and transferred all registrations in 1986. However, Chevron has been named as a co-defendant with Syngenta in hundreds of Paraquat lawsuits brought in U.S. District Courts nationwide, which are now centralized before U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois, as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
The parties are currently engaged in discovery and pretrial proceedings, leading up to a series of Paraquat trials expected to begin in November 2022, which are designed to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to claims brought against the companies for failing to warn consumers about the Parkinson’s disease risk.
In a case management order (PDF) issued by on Monday, Judge Rosenstengel and plaintiffs all agreed that Chevron U.S.A. Inc. should be dismissed as a defendant from all current and future cases alleging exposure to Paraquat that began in 1990 or later, indicating that this will avoid unnecessary litigation, unless good cause is shown to establish why they should not be dismissed from the claims.
According to a docket report (PDF) issued on October 15, there are currently at least 329 Parkinson’s disease lawsuits over Paraquat exposure pending in the federal MDL. However, as lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that several thousand claims will be brought nationwide.
While the outcome of the early “bellwether” trials held in the MDL will not have a binding effect on other plaintiffs, they will be closely watched by those involved in the litigation and may influence the amounts of any Paraquat settlements the manufacturers may need to pay to avoid hundreds of individual cases being set for trial in U.S. District Courts nationwide.
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