Group of 16 Paraquat Parkinson’s Cases Selected For Bellwether Trial Program in MDL

The first bellwether trials over the link between Paraquat and Parkinson's disease are scheduled to start going before juries in November 2022.

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Paraquat Parkinson’s disease lawsuits has identified a group of 16 cases that will be included in the bellwether program, and be prepared for a series of jury trials that are expected to begin by November 2022.

Syngenta and Chevron U.S.A. currently face nearly 400 Paraquat cases brought throughout the federal court system, each raising similar allegations that inadequate warnings were provided about the Parkinson’s disease risk linked to the weed killer, which has been sold for decades through farming and agricultural supply stores under brand names like Gramoxone, Blanco, Cyclone, Bonedry and others.

Although users were warned that there is a risk of Paraquat poisoning if even a small amount of the herbicide is ingested accidentally, the product liability claims allege that information was not disclosed about the the link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s, which can has been reported among individuals who sprayed, mixed or handled the weed killer, as well as a number of people who lived in areas near where it was regularly applied.

In the coming months, the size of the litigation is expected to continue to increase, with each case raising nearly identical allegations. Therefore, all federal Paraquat Parkinson’s cases have been centralized in the federal court system as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which is pending before U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois.

To help manage the growing litigation, Judge Rosenstengel has established a Paraquat bellwether trial program, where a small group of cases will go through coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their claims.

In late June, an aggressive trial schedule established to get the first Paraquat bellwether cases before juries by November 2022. While the outcome will not be binding on other claims, these cases may have a large impact on potential Parkinson’s settlements that may be offered to resolve the litigation.

In a court order (PDF) issued on January 7, Judge Rosenstengel identified the 16 Paraquat cases that will be eligible for the early bellwether trials, including eight cases submitted by plaintiffs and eight cases submitted by the manufacturers.

Plaintiffs in all 16 cases have waived their rights to have the cases remanded and have consented to their claim going to trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

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