Paraquat Attorneys Appointed to Leadership Roles in Federal MDL
As a growing number of Paraquat lawsuits continue to be filed in the federal court system by farmers and agricultural workers diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation has appointed a group of 17 plaintiffs attorneys to serve in various leadership positions during the coordinated pretrial proceedings.
There are currently at least 150 claims filed against Syngenta and Chevron over failure to warn users that exposure to the controversial grass and weed killer may cause Parkinsons. However, as Paraquat injury attorneys continue to review and file claim sin the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that the litigation will include several thousand claims.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in the litigation, the lawsuits were recently consolidated for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, where Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel will preside over coordinated discovery in the Paraquat MDL (multi-district litigation).
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In a court order (PDF) issued on July 6, Judge Rosenstengel appointed three plaintiff’s attorneys to serve as co-lead counsel, and 14 attorneys to serve as the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee (PEC). Two of the PEC members will also serve as liaisons between the state and federal courts.
These attorneys serving in leadership roles will perform various tasks during the discovery process and meetings with the Court, including arguing motions, taking depositions of common witnesses, reviewing discovery documents and other actions that benefit all cases in the litigation. However, each plaintiff will still maintain their own lawyer to represent their specific interests in their claims against Paraquat manufacturers.
In another case management order (PDF) issued the same day, Judge Rosenstengel also announced that she will be appointing a Special Master to attempt to help the parties resolve issues and potentially reach an eventual Paraquat settlement to resolve the cases.
Because of the quantity and complexity of these related cases, and the common interest in a fair and expeditious resolution, the Court has determined that it would be beneficial to appoint a special master, at the expense of the parties, to assist the Court,” wrote Judge Rosenstengel in the order, which proposes Randi S. Ellis as the special master, indicating that she has worked with the Court on mass tort cases in the past.
Judge Rosenstengel indicated she will accept objections to the appointment of Ellis until July 13.
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