Know your rights and injury

Paraquat lawsuit

Toxic Contamination

Over time, exposure to the popular herbicide paraquat has caused farmers, agricultural workers, and others to develop severe health conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease. If you or a loved one is in this situation, you can file a paraquat lawsuit against the herbicide manufacturer. In doing so, you could collect compensation for your medical expenses and other losses related to your illness or disease. 

Paraquat: a toxic commercial herbicide

The Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta manufactures an herbicide brand called Gramoxone SL 2.0 Herbicide, which contains the chemical paraquat dichloride—generally referred to as simply paraquat. Though it is used all over the world, it is particularly popular for commercial use in the United States. Paraquat is also an ingredient in other herbicides sold under these names:

  • Para – SHOT
  • Devour
  • Helmquat
  • Ortho-Paraquat

Unlike the common household herbicide Roundup, paraquat is a commercial product that only licensed individuals can handle. However, like Roundup, paraquat is highly toxic and can lead to severe health conditions from repeated exposure.

Paraquat dichloride in the United States

Paraquat has existed for the past 130 years, but did not enjoy widespread use as an herbicide until the mid-20th century. Since then, Britain and 59 other countries have banned the use of the pesticide, but many countries continue to export it to the United States, including Britain. Similarly, Switzerland has banned the use of paraquat—even though Syngenta, the company that manufactures the toxic herbicide, is headquartered in the country. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers paraquat to be a restricted use pesticide (RUP) due to its extreme toxicity. In fact, the EPA warns that as little as one sip is fatal, as there is no antidote. In August 2021, the government agency issued new and stronger safety measures concerning the use of paraquat to safeguard human health, but declined to restrict or ban its usage further. 

Although a single sip of paraquat is fatal, usage of paraquat in the United States continues to rise. Unfortunately, the result has been rising cases of paraquat poisoning and other health concerns connected to exposure to the chemical.

Paraquat poisoning

Despite the EPA’s RUP labels, there have been many reports of paraquat poisoning due to accidental ingestion. Several fatalities reportedly occurred due to placement of paraquat in various drinking containers. The EPA strictly warns against this on the label and requires all those who handle the chemical to complete a training program. 

Symptoms of paraquat poisoning vary depending on the amount ingested. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they may include:

  • Swelling of the mouth and throat
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

In the hours or days after ingestion, symptoms tend to escalate to:

  • Heart, kidney, or liver failure
  • Coma
  • Respiratory failure or fluid in the lungs
  • Seizures
  • Death

However, paraquat poisoning through ingestion is not the only risk. Exposure can also occur in the air, soil, and water, or indirectly through contaminated crops later consumed by humans. While non-ingestion exposure may not be immediately fatal, it has been linked to the development of serious health conditions, including Parkinson’s disease.

Paraquat linked to Parkinson’s disease

According to a 2016 study published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, exposure to paraquat may lead to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Researchers reported that many studies reached the same conclusion, and that evidence of that correlation was “strong.” Scientific research, then, supports the lawsuits claiming a connection between paraquat exposure and the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects a certain type of neuron in a portion of the brain. More specifically, Parkinson’s disease impacts neurons that produce dopamine in the substantia nigra, which is an area of the brain. Although symptoms vary and increase over time, common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may include:

  • Tremors, especially in the hands and when at rest
  • Rigidity of limbs
  • Problems with gait and balance
  • Slowness of movement
  • Speech impairments
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Vision problems
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Difficulty sleeping

These symptoms tend to progressively worsen over time and could become severe to the point that they are permanently and severely debilitating. Most individuals eventually cannot walk and may be bedridden. While treatments can approve the quality of life for individuals with this diagnosis, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. Although Parkinson’s disease itself is not fatal, complications from the disease can be. 

Anyone who has developed Parkinson’s disease as a result of paraquat exposure may be able to file a lawsuit. They could have a legal claim against the company that manufactured, marketed, and distributed the weedkiller. If the affected parties are deceased, then their surviving families can file a wrongful death claim. 

Taking legal action for paraquat exposure

Many people have suffered the ill effects of paraquat after being exposed to the herbicide, including developing Parkinson’s disease. If this happened to you or your loved one, you could file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for manufacturing, marketing, and distributing paraquat. A mass tort lawsuit attorney can assess your situation and determine if you have a legal claim to file a paraquat lawsuit. 

Filing a lawsuit allows you to hold companies liable for their actions in creating a product that they knew was toxic and could cause harm to consumers. In addition to potentially recovering compensation, you send a clear message to big companies that harming people with consumer products is not an acceptable practice.

You can file a paraquat lawsuit in state court or federal court—there are advantages and disadvantages to each choice. Your choice of courts may also depend on the state in which you live or suffered exposure to paraquat. 

Claims against paraquat manufacturer, Syngenta

You could qualify to hold Syngenta, the manufacturer of paraquat—and other parties that sold or distributed paraquat in conjunction with Syngenta—legally liable for your losses based on the following claims:

  • Syngenta knew or reasonably should have known that exposure to its toxic herbicide could cause Parkinson’s disease.
  • Syngenta failed to warn the public of the potential dangers of using the herbicide.
  • Syngenta was negligent in marketing the product to the public.
  • Syngenta failed to take reasonable measures to protect the public from harm.

Many other factors also impact your ability to file suit, including the link between exposure to paraquat and your or your loved one’s illness. You must have sufficient evidence of this link to prove your case. This evidence can allow you to hold the responsible parties accountable for their failure to protect consumers from the harms that this toxic herbicide can cause. 

Who is eligible to file a paraquat lawsuit?

Anyone who came into contact with paraquat products and suffered ill effects may have legal claims against the herbicide manufacturers. However, due to this herbicide’s restricted status, certain groups are more likely to suffer from exposure. These individuals include:

  • Farmers and other agricultural workers
  • Landscapers
  • People who lived near fields sprayed with paraquat
  • Anyone working with commercial weed killers or using products treated with commercial weed killers

Companies that manufacture products for public use must produce only safe products, or at least warn the public of potential dangers in using the products. If companies know that usage of their products carries risks, and they fail to inform or warn consumers of those risks, they must be accountable for the consequences. Therefore, they can be financially liable for the illnesses or medical conditions that usage of their products cause people. 

Why file a paraquat lawsuit?

Parkinson’s is a progressively debilitating disease for which there currently is no cure. While the disease is not always fatal, it eventually causes severe impairments that almost always leave victims confined to a wheelchair or bedridden. As a result, the costs of caring for a person who has developed Parkinson’s disease are significant. 

If you or your loved one is facing this disease due to paraquat exposure, you may want to file a paraquat lawsuit for various reasons, including the following:

  • You can get compensation to help with the costs of treating and caring for Parkinson’s disease, which is costly.
  • You can hold companies who failed to warn consumers about the dangers of paraquat exposure accountable for their actions.
  • You can raise public awareness about the dangers of paraquat and how it can affect individuals who have long-term exposure to the chemical.

The manufacturer’s failure to warn consumers of the potential harm can make them responsible for the costs of your injuries. You can seek compensation for those costs and related losses through a personal injury lawsuit. Financial settlements and damage awards make companies pay for their misdeeds. 

Wrongful death paraquat lawsuits

If paraquat caused illness that led to the death of your loved one, you may have a wrongful death claim against the manufacturers as a surviving family member. Under wrongful death laws in every state, specific immediate family members have the right to seek compensation when another person or company is responsible for causing the death.

Generally, if the deceased would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit had they survived, the surviving family members designated by law have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Different forms of compensation may be available in a wrongful death case than in a personal injury case. For instance, funeral and burial expenses may be recoverable. 

Paraquat litigation

The use of paraquat and restrictions on paraquat have a long history in the United States and in other countries. It is not until recently, however, that individuals have come forward and filed lawsuits about their injuries due to paraquat exposure. 

A farmer affected by paraquat exposure filed the first lawsuit against Syngenta over this issue in Illinois state courts in October 2017. In April 2021, the first paraquat case was scheduled to go to trial. However, the parties to that case agreed to delay the trial date, and ultimately reached a settlement. Sixteen more paraquat cases pending in California state court reached a settlement in June 2021.

Since then, the number of paraquat lawsuits has risen rapidly as more and more people who have developed Parkinson’s disease as a result of paraquat exposure are coming forward. As of June 22, 2021, 157 cases were pending in federal and state courts throughout the United States alleging injuries suffered by people with exposure to paraquat.

As a result, there are currently multiple options available for seeking compensation from manufacturers, including multidistrict litigation and a class action lawsuit.

Filing a standalone lawsuit

Some people choose to file individual lawsuits against the companies responsible for manufacturing and producing toxic herbicides like paraquat. In an individual lawsuit, the only legal issues concern whether the defendants produced a product that directly caused your illness or your loved one’s illness. You alone decide whether to accept any settlement offers, and then receive compensation only for your or your loved one’s expenses and related losses.

However, due to the growing number of paraquat lawsuits, it may be beneficial to join your case with others in order to pool resources. Though this will change the steps for seeking compensation for your damages, a lawyer can guide you through the process smoothly.

Multidistrict litigation (MDL)

When a mass tort occurs—such as injury to multiple plaintiffs from exposure to paraquat—multidistrict litigation (MDL) may be appropriate. These are cases in which a large number of people are claiming that the same consumer product injured them in some way. 

In an MDL, cases are consolidated in a specific federal district court in one state, no matter in which state the cases originated. However, the cases still remain individual lawsuits. 

An MDL is largely a case management tool. Some cases will go to trial first as “bellwether” cases. The results of these initial cases will give both sides a better sense of the outcome of trials in the future, which can lead to settlements in more cases. 

Is there a paraquat MDL?

In June 2021, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation approved the formation of paraquat multidistrict litigation in an Illinois federal district court. By August 13, 2021, a total of 187 cases had joined the multidistrict litigation in the Illinois federal court. A jury trial has been scheduled in those cases for November 15, 2022. 

As bellwether trials for the paraquat MDL have not yet begun, you may still have an opportunity to join this action if your case fits the requirements. An attorney can help you determine this and take the steps to complete the process.

Paraquat class action lawsuit

In a class action lawsuit, a lead plaintiff or injured person represents a large group of injured people, or a “class.” The class members all share certain characteristics, such as all having developed Parkinson’s disease after exposure to paraquat. 

In May 2021, an Iowa farmer filed a class action lawsuit against Syngenta and Chevron USA for failing to warn him and others in similar circumstances of the elevated risks of developing Parkinson’s disease from paraquat exposure. The farmer had been using paraquat to spray crops since the 1990s. 

It’s worth noting that you have less control over a class action lawsuit, and any settlement is split among all the class members, so you may receive less compensation. Still, a class action can be beneficial for many reasons. When you hire a law firm to represent you, a lawyer will explain your options and help you choose the best path.

Statute of limitations on paraquat lawsuits

Every lawsuit is subject to a statute of limitations, or time limit on how long you have to file a case in court. These time limits vary according to the type of lawsuit that you are filing and the state in which you are filing. Every state has different statutes of limitations.

Additionally, paraquat lawsuits can be personal injury cases or wrongful death cases, depending on the situation. These two types of cases may have different deadlines under state laws. Knowing the statute of limitations that applies to your case is critical. Failing to file your paraquat lawsuit within the correct statute of limitations could prevent you from getting any compensation for your or your loved one’s illness.

It can be difficult to determine if you are eligible to file a case in court, because you may not recognize the effects of paraquat until after many years of exposure. Getting legal advice as quickly as possible can help you be aware of and meet the critical deadlines that apply to your case. 

Choosing an attorney for your paraquat lawsuit

Every lawsuit proceeds differently according to the trial rules and procedures established by state law. Every jurisdiction has rules and laws that vary widely. However, plaintiffs in paraquat lawsuits can expect to go through some of the same general steps in the litigation process.  

How to choose the right personal injury lawyer

Choosing an attorney is not an easy task, but it is often the first step that you take toward getting compensation for your injuries. You may want to interview multiple attorneys before you decide who to hire in your case.

Some things to consider when choosing an attorney include:

  • How much experience your attorney has in handling similar cases
  • The attorney’s level of confidence in your case
  • The ability and willingness to answer your questions and address your concerns
  • Your comfort level in working with the attorney and speaking about personal matters, including medical information
  • Whether the law firm offers a free consultation and will take on your case without any payments from you up front, or on a contingency-fee basis

Paraquat cases and mass tort cases in general can be highly complex, as they often require a significant understanding of scientific and medical concepts. You are likely to want an attorney who can properly handle the scope of your case while also addressing your individualized needs. 

Case review and preparation

Once you hire a mass tort lawsuit lawyer, they will thoroughly review all the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, including:

  • Evidence of your or your loved one’s medical diagnosis, prognosis, and need for treatment
  • Medical bills, home health care expenses, and the costs of long-term care
  • Employment records or other records of paraquat usage, such as purchase records or records of application of paraquat to nearby fields
  • Warning labels, guidance, and instructions provided to consumers using or applying paraquat

After reviewing all relevant evidence, your lawyer can assess the legal validity of your case and identify all potentially liable parties. Your legal team will then draft the paperwork necessary to file your lawsuit in court. 

Filing your paraquat lawsuit

A lawsuit formally begins when you file a document called a complaint in court. A complaint contains the following information:

  • A short description of the injury or illness
  • An explanation as to what the other parties to the case did to cause you to suffer the injury or illness
  • A summary of the damages and losses that you have suffered as a result of the conduct of the other parties
  • A request that the judge and jury find the other parties liable or financially responsible for the harm that they caused you

In your complaint, you must list all the parties that you are suing for your injuries and that you believe should be held liable for the costs of your injuries. Then, each party will receive official notice that you have filed your complaint in court. They also will receive a copy of the documents that you have filed with the court.  

Responses and discovery

Court rules govern how long each party has to respond to the lawsuit. Once all parties have responded, the judge will typically issue some type of case management order. The judge will often meet with the attorneys to set deadlines and court dates for the next steps and then place those dates and times into a court order. 

The parties also will start working on discovery requests. Discovery refers to the exchange of all information and evidence about the case between the parties. Each party is required to turn over all information that they intend to use at trial to the other parties, including the names and contact information for all witnesses and copies of all documents. 

Discovery also involves getting information from other parties that you may know. For instance, you can ask another party to produce specific business records that you do not have that might be relevant to the case. You can also ask questions to a party or witness under oath during a discovery tool called a deposition. 

Your paraquat compensation options

You may be eligible to collect various forms of compensation in a paraquat lawsuit. As there is no current cure for Parkinson’s disease, medical treatment and care for a person with this disease is ongoing. Compensation in a paraquat case may include:

  • Bills for medical treatment 
  • Home health and personal care expenses
  • Lost wages and loss of future income
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment and quality of life

Some forms of damages are economic and tied to a particular financial loss, like a medical bill. Other damages are non-economic and more intangible, like pain and suffering. You might be eligible for both types of damages in a paraquat lawsuit. 

In some cases, juries may award punitive damages against manufacturers. These awards may be appropriate in cases where companies knew that the weed killer caused Parkinson’s disease but failed to inform consumers of the risk of using it. Punitive damages and other financial awards are one way for you to hold companies accountable for their actions in knowingly allowing their products to endanger consumers.  

Settlement or trial

The majority of mass tort cases end in settlement. A settlement is an agreement between the parties that resolves all the issues in the lawsuit. Here are some things that you should know about settlements in a personal injury case:

  • They usually involve the defendant, or the party being sued, paying a specific sum of money to the plaintiff.
  • They often do not require the defendant to admit any guilt, liability, or responsibility for the harm that the plaintiff has suffered.
  • The terms of the settlement may be confidential and not available to the public. 
  • In exchange for the money received, the plaintiff agrees to waive or give up any future claims against the defendants stemming from the same matter. 

However, some cases do go to trial when the parties cannot reach a settlement that is acceptable to all sides. As mentioned above, in a mass tort situation, a few cases initially go to trial to give the parties an idea about potential outcomes. The results of those cases may determine whether the defendants choose to go to trial in more cases or offer more settlements. 

Resolution

You resolve a paraquat case through settlement or trial. If you reach a settlement, you agree to dismiss the lawsuit and the court grants your request for dismissal. 

In a trial, however, a jury decides if the defendants are responsible for your injuries. If so, the jury also decides how much compensation you should get for your injuries. The court then issues an order or judgment that states how much each defendant owes you for your injuries, if anything. 

If you successfully resolve your case through settlement or trial, there still likely will be some time before you receive compensation. In the case of a trial, one or more parties has the right to appeal the judgment to a higher court, which can lead to lengthier court proceedings. You must also complete all necessary legal paperwork before you will receive compensation in your paraquat lawsuit. 

Let us connect you with a paraquat lawsuit attorney today

If you or a loved one has developed Parkinson’s disease or another health condition as a result of exposure to the herbicide paraquat, you have a legal right to seek compensation through a paraquat lawsuit. You may have the chance to hold the companies that manufacture and sell paraquat accountable for failing to warn consumers about the potential dangers. 

We can help you get the answers that you are seeking and learn more about your legal rights after suffering injuries or illness from paraquat exposure. Allow us to connect you with a law firm and help you take the crucial first step toward recovering compensation for your losses. Fill out our contact form for help with your case or call 1-844-448-6787 for a free consultation.