Parkinson’s Disease Lawsuit Against Paraquat Manufacturers Claims Herbicide is “Dangerous to Human Health”

Plaintiff was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease from Paraquat, after exposure to the dangerous herbicide for more than 20 years, according to the lawsuit

Exposure to the controversial herbicide Paraquat poses a severe danger to the health of users, which the manufacturers have failed to adequately disclose, according to a recently-filed lawsuit brought by a former agricultural worker diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

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 sold Paraquat formulations under a variety of names, and promoted the weed killer without warning users about the long-term side effects they may face from exposure.

Although it has been widely used for decades, and is already heavily restricted in the United States due to the risk of Paraquat toxicity if even a small amount of the weed killer is ingested, there are now a growing number of Paraquat lawsuits being pursued by former users diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, indicating that studies have found exposure may be linked to a two- to five-fold increased risk among individuals regularly handling, mixing and spraying Paraquat, compared to populations that do not have such occupational exposure.

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In a complaint (PDF) filed late last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Gregory Lindgren indicates he developed Parkinson’s disease from Paraquat exposure while mixing and spraying the weedkiller while working on a large manufacturing agricultural field from about 1981 to 2005.

The lawsuit pursues damages from Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, and Chevron U.S.A., Inc. as the defendants, indicating that the companies have manufactured and sold Paraquat-based weedkillers to agricultural users for decades, without disclosing the dangers to human health or providing proper warnings and directions for the handling of the herbicide.

Lindgren indicates, in his Parkinson’s disease lawsuit against Paraquat manufacturers, that he was never warned exposure could cause this debilitating disease, calling the herbicide “dangerous to human health” and unfit to be marketed and sold in commerce.

“Defendants knew or should have known that Paraquat was a highly toxic substance that can cause severe neurological injuries and impairment,” Lindgren’s lawsuit states. “Despite its knowledge that exposure to Paraquat was dangerous, Defendants continued to promote their Paraquat-based products as safe.”

Lindgren presents claims of negligence, design defect, failure to warn, and breach of warranty.

July 2023 Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuit Update

The complaint filed by Lindgren will be consolidated with a number of other Parkinson’s disease lawsuits against the Paraquat manufacturers, which have been brought throughout the federal court system. Given common questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, a Paraquat MDL was established in June 2021, centralizing all claims before U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois.

To help gauge how juries may react to certain evidence and testimony that will be raised throughout the claims, a group of representative cases are being prepared for early trial dates in 2023.

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.

It is then expected that the first Paraquat trial will begin next year. While the outcome of these early trials will not have any binding impact on Lindgren and other plaintiffs, they are expected to greatly influence the 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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