Paraquat Lawsuits: Victims can Seek Compensation after 2021 Settlement
In June 2021, state-level paraquat lawsuits in California brought settlement results for one group of victims. However, many plaintiffs are still seeking compensation for damages caused by the weed killer produced by Syngenta and Chevron. Victims claim that paraquat exposure led them to develop Parkinson’s disease, among other damages.
Federal-level cases consolidated through multidistrict litigation (MDL) action in Southern Illinois are still awaiting trial. Several factors could influence potential settlement outcomes in federal court, including the extent of the plaintiffs’ damages and past verdicts in similar trials.
Background on Paraquat Lawsuits
Paraquat dichloride is an herbicide used to control especially troublesome weeds in commercial agriculture. Due to its high level of toxicity, the sale and use of paraquat are restricted to certified applicators, per the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Paraquat also known as Gramoxone in its end-product form is dangerous upon ingestion, as swallowing the weedkiller in its liquid form can be fatal. Additionally, studies have pointed to a link between exposure to paraquat and the development of Parkinson’s disease. For example, research the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) conducted shows that people who use paraquat are 2.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
As a growing body of science continues to establish a link between the herbicide and Parkinson’s, lawsuits continue to be brought against the product’s manufacturers.
Litigation Is Still Pending in Federal Lawsuits
A settlement for the first major group of paraquat cases brought against Syngenta and Chevron was announced in June 2021, according to the United States Courts. However, the amounts received by the 16 plaintiffs in this California case were not disclosed.
Lawsuits are still pending in a federal-level MDL No. 3004 in the Southern District of Illinois. The MDL is still in the discovery phase, in which both parties share documents relevant to the case. The first trial in the federal MDL has been scheduled for November 15, 2022.
Factors That Could Influence Potential Settlements in the Federal MDL
While there is no certain amount that paraquat victims could expect in a lawsuit, the following factors could influence the financial recovery available to plaintiffs in the pending paraquat MDL:
- The plaintiffs’ damages: Victims can seek damages based on the extent of their injuries, the cost of their medical care, and other losses. The costs of treating Parkinson’s disease can be substantial, as this progressive nervous system condition may require medications, surgeries, assistance with daily activities, and other forms of treatment and support (per Mayo Clinic).
- The outcome of bellwether trials: In a multidistrict litigation action, the first trials are called bellwether trials. In these trials, key plaintiffs present their compensation cases and the verdicts in these trials often indicate potential settlements available for other victims in the case.
- Verdicts in past trials: Other similar trials can also influence the outcome of current paraquat cases. For instance, the lawsuits against Monsanto and Bayer for its toxic herbicide, Roundup, could provide a model for paraquat cases. In 2020, Bayer resolved thousands of lawsuits through an $11 billion settlement (per Reuters).
As lawsuits in the federal MDL are still pending, injury victims could still seek compensation against paraquat’s makers.