Syngenta Faces a Parkinson’s Disease Wrongful Lawsuit Over Paraquat Sprayed By Neighboring Farmers

The Parkinson's disease wrongful death lawsuit indicates Syngenta never warned users or those who suffered Paraquat exposure of the potential health risks.

According to allegations raised in a wrongful death lawsuit recently filed against Syngenta, a Louisiana man developed a fatal case of Parkinson’s disease after direct exposure to Paraquat sprayed by neighboring farmers.

Thelma Ratcliffe filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on July 19, on behalf of herself and her late husband, Harvey Ratcliffe, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2016, which lead to his premature death.

The lawsuit joins about 1,300 Paraquat lawsuits filed against Syngenta in the federal court system, each raising similar allegations that the company manufactured and sold Paraquat-based herbicides for decades, without warning about the link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, which research has found may develop years after regularly spraying, mixing, transporting or handling the weed killer.

PARAQUAT Parkinson's Lawsuits

Did you get Parkinson's after exposure to Paraquat?

Exposure to the toxic herbicide Paraquat has been linked to a risk of Parkinson's disease.


The lawsuit claims Harvey Ratcliffe died from complications linked to Parkinson’s disease, which was the direct result of Paraquat and Sygenta’s failure to adequately warn about the risks not only for users, but bystanders exposed to the herbicide.

“Plaintiff Harvey Ratcliffe was directly exposed to Defendants’ Paraquat products as a bystander when neighboring farmers sprayed and applied Paraquat products for the farm’s cotton and soybean crops, and the Paraquat product spray would reach Plaintiff’s body,” the lawsuit states. “During the entire time that Plaintiff was exposed to Paraquat, Plaintiff did not know that exposure to Paraquat when handled according to the instructions could be injurious to Plaintiff or others.”

While genetics are often believed to be a major cause of Parkinson’s disease, growing research indicates genes are only 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.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the litigation, the federal cases have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation.

A group of six representative cases involving Parkinson’s disease from Paraquat are being prepared for trial in the MDL, which are expected to start in mid-2023, to help gauge how juries will respond to certain evidence that will be repeated throughout many of the claims.


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