The powerful weed killer paraquat has been used in commercial agricultural applications for decades. Although direct ingestion of the herbicide can be fatal, manufacturers have maintained that paraquat is safe when used as directed. Recent research, however, has suggested that chronic exposure to the chemical may lead to Parkinson’s disease (PD).
A growing number of farmers, agricultural workers, and others exposed to paraquat have filed suit, claiming the herbicide is to blame for their illness. In fact, paraquat lawsuits have been grouped into an MDL (multidistrict litigation) that added more than 200 plaintiffs per month in 2022. The cases continue to mount in 2023, with hundreds of new paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuits joining the MDL.
The Paraquat Parkinson’s Link
While the immediate dangers of acute inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact with paraquat are well known, the long-term damage caused by chronic exposure is less clear. Numerous scientific studies have looked at whether paraquat exposure causes Parkinson’s. Some have found no link, while others indicate as much as a two- to three-fold increased risk of PD.
Long before the chronic health risks of paraquat were publicly known, it appears that manufacturer Syngenta suspected potential problems. A 2022 Guardian investigative report revealed that the company feared it could face legal liability for long-term paraquat side effects as far back as 1975. Furthermore, the report said, Syngenta withheld key safety information and engaged in a corporate strategy designed to influence regulators.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
Parkinson’s is an incurable neurological disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements. It typically worsens over time, and may eventually result in major difficulty with such tasks as walking or talking. PD has four main symptoms:
- Shaking of the hands, arms, legs, head, or jaw
- Muscle stiffness or rigidity
- Slow movements
- Impaired posture, balance, and coordination
Other Parkinson’s symptoms may include the following:
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking
- Bathroom issues including constipation, incontinence, and gastrointestinal problems
- Changes in various daily habits and activities, including writing and sleeping
- Depression and other emotional issues
- Decreased blinking and facial movements
- Trouble thinking, focusing, and remembering, including dementia
Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuits
Most paraquat lawsuits in the U.S. name Syngenta and Chevron as defendants, arguing that the companies failed to warn users of the potential neurological side effects. During 2022, the number of plaintiffs involved in the paraquat Parkinson’s MDL rose from 482 to 2,352.
Experts expect the first paraquat “bellwether trial” to go in front of a jury in 2023. These early trials act as test cases that provide an idea of what to expect moving forward, including potential payouts. While no one knows how much paraquat Parkinson’s awards or settlements will be, Roundup herbicide lawsuits paid out an average of $160,000 in 2020.
Agricultural workers, chemical mixers, and others who developed Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to paraquat may qualify for financial compensation. While paraquat is commonly sold under the brand name Gramoxone, you may have also used it under the names Firestorm, Helmquat, Parazone, and others. If you think you may have a case, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a paraquat lawsuit attorney