Since the COVID pandemic has slowed, all the US courts are flooded with pending product liability lawsuits involving opioids, ParaGard IUDs, IVC filters, 3M earplugs, AFFF foam, Elmiron, and other products. Attorneys, plaintiffs, and defendants are all anxiously awaiting the outcome of their respective lawsuits.
Paraquat lawsuits are among the herbicide lawsuits, along with Roundup and dicamba, that have plaintiffs eagerly awaiting a settlement update in 2022. While Roundup causes non-lymphoma Hodgkin’s (a type of cancer), Paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease and is the subject of numerous herbicide lawsuits.
Let us go over Paraquat in detail, starting with its introduction to the market, how it became infamous, and why it is currently facing a train of lawsuits. You can also see the most recent legal proceedings and settlement updates in 2022 and 2023. Follow the blog for more information.
What is Paraquat?
Paraquat is a nonselective contact herbicide that is absorbed by the foliage and moves through the xylem. It is used for broad-spectrum weed and grass control in fruit orchards and plantations, as well as inter-row weed control in many crops.
Paraquat is commonly known as methyl viologen or N, N′-dimethyl-4,4′-bipyridinium dichloride, and its chemical name is [(C₆H₇N)₂]Cl₂. It is categorized as a viologen, a group of structurally related redox-active heterocycles. Since Paraquat is extremely dangerous, the version sold in the US has a blue dye to distinguish it from things like drinks, a strong stench to act as a warning, and an additional ingredient to make people throw up if they consume it. These precautions might not be included in Paraquat imported from other countries, and there are risks of accidental consumption.
History of Paraquat
Weidel and Russo were the first to define Paraquat in 1882. Michaelis and Hill named the compound methyl viologen after discovering its redox properties in 1933. Brian et al. (1958) described the herbicidal properties of Paraquat. The Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) began producing and marketing Paraquat in early 1962 under the brand name Gramoxone, and it is now one of the most widely used herbicides.
Don’t just think that Gramoxone is the only brand that has Paraquat in it. There are many other brands that contain Paraquat, such as Parazone, Quick-Quat, Para-Shot 3.0., Helmquat 3SL, Cyclone SL 2.0., Firestorm, and Crisquat in the market.
The main manufacturers who manufacture Paraquat are as follows:
- Altitude Crop Innovations, LLC
- Adama Group
- Helm Agro
- Drexel Chemical Company
- Innvictis Crop Care, LLC
- Sinon USA, Inc.
- United Phosphorous
After Imperial Chemical Industries, Paraquat was sold by AstraZeneca, and later in 2000, AstraZeneca and Novartis merged, and Syngenta was formed. Syngenta is headquartered in Switzerland. At present, Syngenta is the main manufacturer of Paraquat and is owned by ChemChina as it bought Syngenta for $43 billion in 2015, and the main defendant who has taken the responsibility of facing the Paraquat lawsuits.
Let’s analyze if the defendants knew the toxic nature of their product. Since many adverse events started evolving after the exposure to Paraquat, Imperial chemical industries stated that it would add a chemical called PP796 to reduce the concentration of Paraquat and prevent fatalities.
However, later in 1990, it was found out by their own toxicologist named Jon Heylings that PP796 was not used in the quantity as proposed by the senior scientist Michael Rose in 1976 in his notes. Even if it is added, it cannot do what was intended. Though Heylings had reported the event to the company superiors, no actions were taken, and it was maintained as a company secret.
Paraquat is highly toxic to human beings. Accidental inhalation or ingestion would be very dangerous. More than 50 nations have banned Paraquat, including those in the European Union, China, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
Despite international bans and growing health concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ignored potential links between Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease. The EPA stated that there is “insufficient evidence” to connect Paraquat products to worries about human health in a preliminary study on Paraquat released in 2019. The EPA permits restricted use of Paraquat in the United States, saying that it could be used only by a licensed pesticide applicator.
Every year around 3,500 to 8,500 acres of fallow land are treated with the spraying of Paraquat. The reason why the EPA is not ready to ban toxic herbicides like glyphosate and Paraquat is still baffling as many other countries have banned Paraquat. However, in 2021, EPA reported the completion of new, more stringent safety procedures to lessen exposure to the herbicide Paraquat dichloride. They were
- Restricting aerial applications and mandating buffers around homes.
- Prohibiting the use of backpack and handgun sprayers under pressure.
- Ground boom applications require enclosed cabs or respirators.
- For a number of crops, extending the REI (Restricted Entry Interval).
The American Parkinson’s Disease Association conducted studies that discovered an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease in people exposed to Paraquat-containing pesticides. This includes many people who live in rural areas, such as:
- Farmers who have been exposed to farm animals
- People who live on farms
- People who have a history of pesticide exposure
- People who drink well water
- People who reside in rural areas
Adverse Effects of Paraquat
Even a single sip of Paraquat will be strong enough to ring one’s death bells. When Paraquat comes into contact with the lining of the mouth, stomach, or intestines, it causes direct damage. When Paraquat enters the body, it spreads throughout the entire body. The lungs, liver, and kidneys are the primary organs in which Paraquat causes hazardous chemical reactions.
The short-term exposure to Paraquat could cause the following side effects.
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fluid formation in the lungs
- Digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Heart attack
- Renal failure
- Liver failure
- Scarring in the lungs
- Muscle tremor
- Respiration difficulty
However, long-term exposure could cause more serious illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, impairment in lung function, and reproductive issues.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder affecting the central nervous system’s ability to control movement. Tremors, slowed movement, freezing gait, slurred speech, poor balance, muscle spasms, and stooped posture can result from this.
Paraquat destroys weeds by forming oxidative stress, and the same oxidative stress is known to be causing the death of dopaminergic neurons in the human brain’s substantia nigra pars compacta as dopamine production is affected. Dopamine is the chemical that sends motor signals from the brain to the rest of the body.
Scientific Studies to Prove Paraquat’s Toxicity
In 2009, a study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that people who lived within 1600 feet of the area where Paraquat was regularly used had the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. A more comprehensive study of them published in 2011 found a strong relationship between Parkinson’s disease and exposure to Paraquat. In 2016, EPA announced that it was going to do a safety review on Paraquat.
Greenpeace published the Paraquat papers in March 2021, where it was revealed that Imperial Chemical Industries and Syngenta hid the risk of Paraquat from the public deliberately. Though the ICI had claimed to add emetic PP796 to prevent Paraquat poisoning, it clearly proved that it was aware of the risk earlier, and as we have seen earlier in Heyling’s warning, the company hid the fact that the emetic addition could not prevent the fatality.
The emetic was said to be added to induce vomiting in people who accidentally swallowed the chemical. The low quantity usage could not do that. Even after the warning, the manufacturer did not take the much-needed action.
Another study on people who were exposed to Paraquat while they were young indicated that the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease increased by 200 percent to 600 percent. Last but not least, a more recent study in 2021 found that long-term, low-level Paraquat inhalation increased the likelihood of mice developing Parkinson’s disease significantly.
In September 2021, a French research study found that Paraquat exposure in pregnant women can cause a form of prenatal neurodevelopmental poisoning, which is equal to Parkinson’s Disease. This is the first study to associate prenatal Paraquat exposure with birth defects.
Progression of Paraquat Lawsuits
In 2017, the first Parkinson’s disease Paraquat lawsuit was filed in Missouri against Syngenta and Chevron U.S.A., Inc. The plaintiff Henry Holyfield was exposed to Paraquat as an agricultural aircraft laborer from 1965 to 1975. In 2015, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and the plaintiff and his wife, Tara Holyfield, sued the defendants on the following counts: design defect, failure to warn, breach of an implied warranty, negligence, and loss of consortium.
In May 2018, farmers Thomas Hoffmann and Diana Hoffmann, along with a dozen other plaintiffs, filed a Paraquat lawsuit against Syngenta and Chevron. Thomas Hoffmann, who had been exposed to Paraquat on his farm for more than 20 years, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1998 at the age of 44.
In 2021, Syngenta and Chevron settled the Paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuit 2018 with Hoffman and the dozen plaintiffs with Parkinson’s Disease. The settlement amount was kept under wraps. However, it is believed that the plaintiffs received large settlement amounts.
In April 2021, Ellis Pratt of Illinois filed a Paraquat herbicide lawsuit, claiming that long-term exposure to the herbicide caused him to develop kidney damage. Pratt was exposed to Paraquat for about 11 years through direct exposure, contaminated drinking water, and pesticide drift and was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2021.
In May 2021, Doug Holliday, an Iowa farmer, filed a Paraquat lawsuit on behalf of himself and others against Syngenta and Chevron for putting people’s lives at risk of Parkinson’s disease and failing to warn them of Paraquat toxicity. Since the 1990s, he had been using Paraquat on thousands of acres of cropland.
These lawsuits are only a handful to know the whole sack and clearly tell how Paraquat has affected the lives of many people.
Paraquat Lawsuits MDL
Hundreds and thousands of Paraquat lawsuits were filed all over the U.S. after 2017. All those lawsuits filed in the federal courts were consolidated as a Paraquat MDL named Paraquat product liability litigation MDL 3004 on June 8, 2021. It was created in the Southern District of Illinois under judge Nancy Rosenstengelm for pretrial proceedings.
In May 2022, at the end of the discovery phase, a total of 16 lawsuits were selected for bellwether trials. Out of which, 8 cases were selected by the plaintiffs and 8 cases by the defendants. The fact discovery of all those cases concluded by March 2022.
Out of the 16 cases chosen, a group of 6 cases was selected for the opening round of bellwether trials. The first trial is scheduled to start on November 15, 2022. The other trials would follow on March 13, June 12, and September 18, 2023. The final pretrial conference is scheduled for October 27, 2022. The completion of fact discovery and medical examinations in the six bellwether trial cases is extended to July 25, 2022.
A second Paraquat docket has been opened in California state court and consolidated in Contra Costa County by the state’s Judicial Council, with case number JCCP 5031 assigned to Honorable Judge Edward G. Weil.
Judge Rosenstengel denied Syngenta and Chevron’s motions to dismiss the plaintiffs’ Minnesota law claims and public nuisance claims in February 2022.
As of July 5, 2022, Paraquat lawsuit update, there are 1292 Paraquat lawsuits in the MDL-3004. In June 2022, around 150 new Paraquat lawsuits were transferred to the MDL. The recent data shows that more than 120 Paraquat lawsuits were added to the MDL on average every month.
As of the six bellwether cases scheduled for up to 2023, the plaintiffs and the defendants are eagerly waiting to see the outcome. If most of the verdicts go in favor of the plaintiffs, then the defendants will be forced to agree to a global settlement to close all the remaining Paraquat lawsuits.
Paraquat Lawsuit Updates 2023
The first two bellwether trials scheduled for November 2022 and March 2023 are getting delayed. MDL Judge Nancy Rosenstengel has rescheduled the first Paraquat bellwether trial until October 2023 to allow for more discovery time. This, in turn, will delay the settlement process for the plaintiffs.
Around 70 new Paraquat lawsuits were added to the MDL at the end of the previous year, bringing the total number of active lawsuits to 2,352. However, experts predict that there will be more inflow of new cases in 2023.
For the latest Paraquat lawsuit updates 2023, follow this blog as we update it often.
Paraquat Lawsuit Settlement Amount
When compared to the Roundup lawsuits, there are only a lesser number of Paraquat lawsuits. Therefore, if a global settlement works out, the plaintiffs may get huge compensation for their damages. The settlement amount will be decided on the following things:
- The strength of the scientific evidence of Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease
- The outcome of the bellwether trials
- The strong evidence in each individual’s case
- The number of Paraquat lawsuits in the MDL
Following the major mass tort global settlements in the past, the plaintiffs could get the following based on the severity of their injuries.
Tier I- Plaintiffs with more severe disease conditions and treatment expenses will get more than $1,000,000 to $400,000. Individuals with moderate damages will get between $300,000 and $150,000. The plaintiffs with lesser damages will get between $150,000 and $20,000.
Bayer’s recent big settlement amount of around $10 billion to settle around 1,00,000 Roundup lawsuits in June 2022 is expected to have a great impact on Paraquat lawsuits too. Let’s hope for the best that in 2022 and 2023, there will be some positive turn of winds toward the Paraquat lawsuit settlements.
How to Proceed with a Paraquat Lawsuit?
If you or your loved one is affected by Parkinson’s disease as a result of exposure to Paraquat, you can proceed with a Paraquat lawsuit. Though renal failure and liver failures are reported in a few cases, many of the lawsuits are filed for Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, Paraquat lawsuit attorneys concentrate on such cases. However, even if you have other issues due to the Paraquat exposure, contact a Paraquat lawsuit lawyer to proceed with a lawsuit.
Since there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, the affected people will need lifelong assistance and expensive treatments. They could not continue their jobs due to Parkinson’s disease. The plaintiffs who got Parkinson’s disease in their earlier stage or middle age will lose their work days and their future chances to earn any kind of job. Therefore, it will affect their earning capacity and render them disabled for their entire lifetime.
In such situations, the victims and their families will need commendable compensation to relieve the financial burden, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Pursuing Paraquat lawsuits is the final option left for them to tackle the situation. If you are in such a situation where you or your family member is affected, contact an experienced attorney who is handling Paraquat lawsuits to take you on the right track to get the deserving reparation.
Remember to do the following to make your claim a winnable one.
- To pursue Paraquat lawsuits, the plaintiffs should have been affected in one of the following ways: 1) You have used Paraquat as part of the profession as farmers, Paraquat applicators, growers, pickers, and landscapers. 2) You live near Paraquat-sprayed farmland. 3) You worked around places where weed killers are being used. 4) You consumed water from wells where Paraquat drifting was noted.
- You should have proof that you are exposed to Paraquat in one of the ways mentioned above.
- Intact medical records of your Parkinson’s disease and the reasonable exposure to Paraquat.
- All the possible treatment details and the medical bills you have incurred.
- Your wage slips prior to the diagnosis to claim for wage loss.
- The bills for medical apparatus you needed as assistive care.
- The expenses for the nursing care you need due to Parkinson’s disease.
- Photos or videos to prove your Paraquat exposure.
Tell your Paraquat exposure story in detail to your Paraquat lawsuit attorney, and he will guide you on how to collect the needed evidence to win your claim. Since many scientific studies have proven the association between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease, it would be easy to prove your case. In some cases, you may need the help of an expert witness statement to fortify your Paraquat exposure lawsuit.
Another important factor that would help you win is the expert medical record review. Expert medical record review companies can plow through your mountainous medical records and dig out the vital evidence that supports your claim. LezDo techmed is handling medical record reviews for many of the recent mass tort claims that are ransacking the U.S. courts.
To wrap up,
Paraquat lawsuits and the settlement are the last hope of many plaintiffs who sued the negligent manufacturers. Living the rest of the life at someone else’s mercy is not an easy thing to come to terms with. Though reparations can’t erase what had happened to you or your loved one, they can assist you in coping with the rest of your life.
Hope the bellwether trials will be able to tame the agrochemical giants and impel them toward a global settlement to ease the worries of the plaintiffs. Once the bellwether trials start, it will give a positive vibe in getting the Paraquat settlement 2022 to the worrying plaintiffs. Staying protected from all harm is not always possible. But it’s our moral right to fight against injustice and bring the wrongdoers before the law. It should be an eye-opener against Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. It will, in a way, ring the danger bells to those who are still using Paraquat without knowing the danger behind it.
Be a volunteer to share your Paraquat exposure stories to create awareness among the people and try to build a healthy community. Share your thoughts with us.
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