Farm Worker Files Paraquat Lawsuit After Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis

The herbicide's link to Parkinson's disease is well-known in the scientific community, the Paraquat lawsuit notes.

A Kansas farm worker has filed a lawsuit alleging that decades of exposure to Paraquat caused his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, and arguing that the manufacturers of the herbicide failed to provide proper warnings or directions about the dangers associated with using the toxic weed killer.

The complaint (PDF) was brought by Darrell Miller in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on June 13, pursuing claims against Syngenta Corporation and Chevron U.S.A. Inc. for withholding information about the potential neurological side effects.

Risk of Parkinson’s Disease After Paraquat Exposure

Paraquat was originally developed in the 1950s by Imperial Chemical Industries, PLC (ICI), which is a legacy company of Syngenta, and the weed killer was first marketed under the brand name Gramoxone in the 1960s. However, over the subsequent decades Syngenta and Chevron sold Paraquat formulations under a variety of names, and promoted the weed killer despite knowledge that it may cause Parkinson’s disease and renal disease.

Although it has been widely used by farm workers for decades, Paraquat is heavily restricted in the United States, due to the risk of fatal poisoning if even a small amount of the weed killer is ingested. However, Miller now joins a growing number of other farm workers filing Paraquat lawsuits after developing Parkinson’s disease, indicating that they were never informed that they may face a two- to five-fold increased risk of developing the devastating disease after handling, mixing and spraying Paraquat.

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.


According to the complaint, Miller was regularly exposed to Paraquat while working on farms in Kansas from 1965 to 1975. During his farm work, Paraquat often got on Miller’s skin and he inhaled droplets of the toxic herbicide, the lawsuit notes.

Miller indicates he began experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and was officially diagnosed in April 2021.

“Although Parkinson’s disease is not known to occur naturally in any species other than humans, Parkinson’s disease research is often performed using ‘animal models,’ in which scientists use Paraquat to artificially produce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in animal test subjects,” Miller’s lawsuit notes. “Paraquat is only one of a handful of toxins that scientists use to produce animal models of Parkinson’s disease.”

The lawsuit indicates neither he nor other farm workers were ever told that Paraquat exposure carried the risk of neurological damage, raising allegations similar to those presented in more than 3,800 other lawsuits against Paraquat manufacturers filed in recent years.

July 2023 Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuit Update

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the cases, the complaint filed by Miller will be centralized with other complaints brought throughout the federal court system in a Paraquat MDL, which was established in the Southern District of Illinois in June 2021, where Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel has been presiding over coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Over the coming months, a series of Daubert hearings for Paraquat lawsuits will be held, at which time the Court will consider challenges presented by each side that seek to exclude certain expert witnesses or opinions that may be offered at trial about the link between exposure to Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease. The court will consider the qualifications of each experts, the basis for their opinions and determine whether the proposed testimony will be permitted at trial.

In a recent filing, Syngenta and Chevon indicated that they intend to file a motion to have Paraquat lawsuits dismissed, arguing that there is a lack of science linking the weed killer to Parkinson’s disease. However, lawsuits by Miller and other plaintiffs note that the link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease is well known and accepted in the scientific community.

To help gauge how juries will respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the lawsuits, it is expected that Judge Rosenstengel will preside over a series of bellwether trials next year.

While the outcome of these trials will not have any binding impact on other plaintiffs, they are likely to have a substantial influence on average Paraquat settlement amounts the manufacturers may offer to avoid each individual claim being remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates in the coming years.


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