Product Liability

Paraquat MDL Gaining Traction

June 14, 2021

As the number of cases filed against Syngenta grow, for their alleged failure to warn consumers of the dangers of exposing themselves to Paraquat, the cases have been consolidated into an MDL action that will be tried in the Northern District of California.

As the number of paraquat lawsuits continues to grow, a motion was filed last month asking the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to create a new Paraquat MDL for the consolidated handling of all future Paraquat cases in the Northern District of California Federal Court. The MDL identified 14 pending Paraquat lawsuits in 6 different federal courts across the country. This MDL would allow the plaintiffs that have filed against the manufacturers of Paraquat to consolidate their claims into one case for the purposes of discovery and other pretrial matters. This motion is a very clear indication that the Paraquat lawsuits are building momentum and could develop into a new large-scale mass tort.

The lawsuits allege that paraquat, a toxic herbicide, can cause Parkinson's Disease to develop, and those who used it were unknowingly at risk when exposed to the toxic chemical. Those who are most at risk of toxic exposure to Paraquat include licensed applicators and agricultural workers.  

In 2011, a massive study involving the U.S Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies reported that farmworkers who regularly used or were exposed to Paraquat were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s compared to a control group. According to Dorsey Ray, professor of neurology at the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Rochester in New York, the “evidence linking paraquat to Parkinson’s disease is probably the strongest of any pesticide commonly used.” This toxicity has led many countries to ban the use of Paraquat. In the U.S., however, Paraquat is legal for use by licensed farmers.

Parkinson’s disease, a neurologic condition in which nerve cells in the brain deteriorate and can lead to severe physical debilitation and sometimes mental impairment, was not included in any of the warnings on the product. The exact causes of Parkinson’s are not fully understood, but various studies have linked the disease to exposure to chemicals and other materials.

The defendants in the case, Syngenta (a Swiss agrichemical company) and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. (a subsidiary of Chevron Corp.) are both included in the Paraquat lawsuits. Syngenta is the original manufacturer of Paraquat and Chevron Phillips had a license to manufacture and sell the product under the brand name Gramoxone. Both companies have maintained that Paraquat is safe and vowed to “vigorously” defend the lawsuits against them. However, neither company is likely to oppose the current motion for the formation of a Paraquat MDL.

Outside of the MDL, one of the earliest Paraquat lawsuits to get filed went to trial in St. Clair County, Illinois on June 1stof this year. The results of this trial are eagerly anticipated and could have a major impact on the future course of the Paraquat litigation. If the jury in this Illinois case gives the plaintiffs a big, headline-grabbing victory, it will almost certainly lead to a wave of new Paraquat lawsuits.

If you or a loved one were exposed to Paraquat® or Gramoxone and have since been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease we're here to help. Fill out the very short intake form HERE and a legal professional will contact you for a free and no-obligation review of your case. You may be entitled to substantial compensation from the manufacturer of Paraquat without ever stepping foot in court. If you do not receive a recovery through a lawsuit or settlement, you don’t owe us anything.

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