Parkinson’s Disease Paraquat Lawsuit Filed By Licensed Applicator After Mixing, Preparing and Spraying Herbicide

Even a licensed applicator was not provided with proper warnings or equipment to prevent neurological damage, according to a Paraquat lawsuits brought over the development of Parkinson's disease

A licensed Restricted Use Pesiticide applicator from Nebraska has filed a Parkinson’s disease lawsuit against Paraquat manufacturers, indicating that he was never warned during training that mixing, preparing and spraying the controversial weedkiller may leave him with permanent neurological damage and debilitating movement disorders.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Donald Dillman in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on May 18, indicating that Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC and Chevron USA, Inc. failed to include information on the Paraquat Parkinson’s disease risks for decades, and even to those specifically trained and licensed to use the herbicide.

Paraquat is heavily restricted in the United States, since it is known to carry toxic side effects if even a small amount is ingested. As a result, it is a “Restricted Use Product”, which requires applicators to go through special training and certifications before it is used. However, a growing number of licensed applicators are now filing Parkinson’s disease Paraquat lawsuits, alleging that they were left with permanent injuries, even after following all of the manufacturers’ recommended safety precautions.

The lawsuit indicates Dillman was exposed to Paraquat as a licensed applicator in Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska for nearly 20 years. However, he was never told that coming into close contact with the herbicide may cause him to develop Parkinson’s disease, after repeatedly inhaling, ingesting or absorbing Paraquat through his skin, mouth and nose.

“Between approximately 1965 and 1982, Plaintiff was in close contact with Paraquat as he would mix, prepare and spray Paraquat,” Dillman’s lawsuit states. “During this time, Plaintiff was repeatedly exposed to, and inhaled, ingested, and/or absorbed Paraquat as he sprayed or otherwise applied it.”

According to the lawsuit, Dillman began suffering neurological problems, leading doctors to a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

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.

The lawsuit filed by Dillman will be consolidated with more than 900 other Paraquat lawsuits brought throughout the federal court system, which have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

To help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation, a group of six Paraquat bellwether claims are being prepared for early trial dates, which are expected to begin in November 2022. While the outcome of these test trials will not be binding on Dillman and other plaintiffs, they may heavily influence the amounts of any Paraquat settlements the manufacturers may offer to avoid years of litigation and trial dates nationwide.

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