Paraquat Applicator Lawsuit Filed Over Development of Parkinson’s Disease

A man who worked as a trained applicator of weed killers for years has filed a product liability lawsuit, alleging he was never warned that the side effects of Paraquat could cause Parkinson’s disease.

James Hallman filed the complaint (PDF) this week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, naming Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC. and Chevron U.S.A. as the defendants, and alleging that even those who received special training about the precautions to take during Paraquat application were not that they may develop Parkinson’s disease after normal handling.

Paraquat is a herbicide that has been widely used throughout the United States since the mid-1960s, which is used to control weeds and long grass. Since accidentally ingesting even a small amount poses a serious risk of Paraquat poisoning and death, the weed killer is heavily restricted in the United States, requiring users to go through a training certification process. However, Hallman claims Syngenta and Chevron have withheld information about the Paraquat Parkinson’s disease risk, which users face even when the recommended precautions are followed.

Hallman’s lawsuit indicates he worked in the agricultural industry as a Paraquat applicator from 1979 to about 1992, mixing, handling, loading, spraying and cleaning Paraquat for six weeks every year. In addition, he lived near an area where Paraquat was sprayed in Robertson County, Tennessee.

In October 2020, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which the lawsuit directly blames on his repeated exposure to Paraquat.

“Although Plaintiff James Hallman knew that the Paraquat to which he was exposed was acutely toxic, he had no reason to suspect that chronic, low-dose exposure to Paraquat could cause neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff James Hallman was never told, either by a medical professional, by media, or by the Defendants, that chronic, low-dose exposure to Paraquat could cause him to suffer Parkinson’s disease.”

While genetics are often believed to be a major cause of Parkinson’s disease, growing research indicates genes are only believed to be associated with about one-in-ten cases. Exposure to herbicides and pesticides are increasingly considered a leading risk, especially when combined with other factors that place individuals at risk of the development of Parkinson’s.

The case joins dozens of Paraquat Parkinson’s disease lawsuits now filed in courts throughout the U.S., each raising similar allegations.

Following an order issued by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in June, the complaints are being transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, where the Paraquat litigation has been centralized before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. However, if Paraquat settlements or another resolution for the litigation is not reached, each individual case may later be returned to the home district where it was originally filed for a future trial.

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