Parkinson’s Disease Lawsuit Filed Over Paraquat Herbicide Exposure as Crop Duster

A product liability lawsuit has been filed against Syngenta, Chevron and other herbicide manufacturers over failure to disclose information about the link between Parkinson’s disease and paraquat exposure, indicating that a former crop duster developed the severe brain disorder after years of spraying the toxic weed and grass killer.

Paraquat has been on the market for decades, although the controversial herbicide is known to be toxic and pose serious health risks. Although it has been known exposure may lead to paraquat poisoning, increasing evidence published in recent years has suggested individuals exposed to the herbicide are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, which is a chronic and progressive condition that causes shaking, stiffness, difficulty walking and other debilitating symptoms that get worse over time.

In a complaint (PDF) filed late last year in Illinois state court, Michael Joseph Kearns and his wife present claims against a number of manufacturers of paraquat-based herbicides, alleging that exposure as a crop duster between 1964 and the early 1980s resulted in his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis in November 2019.

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Kearns was repeatedly exposed to paraquat that was inhaled, ingested or absorbed through his skin while spraying the herbicide as a crop duster in Wisconsin and Illinois.

“No doctor or any other person told Plaintiff Michael Joseph Kearns before November 25, 2019, that his Parkinson’s disease was or could have been caused by exposure to paraquat,” the lawsuit states. “At no time when using paraquat himself was Plaintiff Michael Joseph Kearns aware that exposure to paraquat could cause any latent injury, including any neurological injury or Parkinson’s disease, or that any precautions were necessary to prevent any latent injury that could be caused by exposure to paraquat.”

The lawsuit comes as a growing number of studies in recent years have highlighted the potential Parkinson’s disease risks from paraquat herbicides, suggesting that individuals may face risks from handling, transporting, mixing or applying the grass and weed killer, even when safety precautions provided by the manufacturers are followed.

6 Comments

  • JaniceJuly 21, 2023 at 12:05 pm

    Writing on behalf of my husband who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. We lived in a subdivision where our house backed up to a cotton field that was sprayed by crop dusters with poison serval times a year. Also a ditch between the field and our backyard that was covered in kudzu was sprayed with poison. We lived there for 10 years of spraying! Could someone please contact us? Thank you.

  • CharlotteJanuary 30, 2023 at 9:36 pm

    I am writing in on behave of my Mother who is developing Parkinson's due to being exposed to crop dusting in Mississippi

  • TinaJune 21, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    Brother has been exposed to crop dusting & now has cancer, not Parkinson's, but still cancer. Several of his neighbors have died from or has cancer now. What can be done?

  • LYNNJuly 9, 2021 at 3:54 pm

    we lived in rural locations of both Kosciusko and Marshall Counties in Indiana for over 35 years and were repeatedly exposed to drift from the spraying by crop dusters and/or farmers spraying their fields. I developed Parkinson's Disease approximately 26 years ago.

  • AngelicaJune 21, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    My dad working in a sugar mill and now has Parkinson's. This makes me wonder if it had to do with the planes that flew overhead spraying the corn and cane.

  • JOannFebruary 22, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    writting on behalf of my father he has parkinsons worked in agricultual and chemicals for more then 40 years

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