Paraquat Lawsuit News Updates

The latest lawsuit news and updates regarding Paraquat.

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Adds More Than 200 Cases in One Month, Passes 2200 Total

November 18, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

With more than 200 cases added in the month from mid-October to mid-November, federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the herbicide paraquat continues to expand at a rapid pace, reaching more than 2,200 active cases as of November 15, according to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML).    

The paraquat MDL has centralized federal lawsuits filed by plaintiffs alleging that they developed Parkinson’s Disease or similar neurological conditions following exposure to the highly toxic herbicide, which has been banned in much of the world. Many of the plaintiffs are agricultural workers who were routinely exposed to paraquat as part of their work.    

The defendants include Syngenta, a chemical company based in Basel, Switzerland that is owned by ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned conglomerate, as well as Chevron, the American oil giant that held the rights to manufacture and sell paraquat in the United States from 1964 to 1986. Since 1962, Syngenta and its predecessors have sold paraquat under the brand name Gramoxone.    

Company documents recently leaked to the Guardian show that “the public narrative put forward by Syngenta and the corporate entities that preceded it has at times contradicted the company’s own research and knowledge,” the British publication reported in October. Specifically, the documents show that Syngenta’s own scientists had conducted studies showing that paraquat caused serious brain damage in non-human mammals but failed to make those findings public, instead only releasing data from studies that purported to show paraquat had no such negative effects.    

These recently revealed documents support many of the allegations made by the plaintiffs in the paraquat MDL, which continues to make its way through the pretrial discovery process en route to the first bellwether trial, which is expected to commence sometime in mid-2023.    

Despite being banned in many countries—including in China and Switzerland—due to health concerns, paraquat use has been on the rise in the US in recent years, in part because weeds and other unwanted vegetation have shown an increased immunity to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, one of paraquats main competitors.    

According to the US Geological Survey, use of paraquat in the United States more than doubled between 2014 and 2018 and continues to increase on an annual basis.      

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free consultation!    

Source:    

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 November 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by Actions Pending.    

Gillam, Caray and Aliya Uteuova. (20 October 2022). Secret files suggest chemical giant feared weedkiller's link to Parkinson's Disease. The Guardian.    

United States Geological Survey. (Last modified 12 October 2021). Estimated Agricultural Use for Paraquat, 2018 (Preliminary). National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project.

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Passes 2000 Cases; Syngenta, Other Paraquat Makers Misled Public on Safety, Documents Show

October 22, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Syngenta and the preceding makers of paraquat intentionally misled the public for more than half a century about the safety of the highly toxic herbicide, according to an explosive report published October 20 in the Guardian.  

The report is based on what the Guardian describes as "a cache of internal corporate documents dating back to the 1950s" which reveal that "the public narrative put forward by Syngenta and the corporate entities that preceded it has at times contradicted the company's own research and knowledge."  

Though it has been banned in much of the world, paraquat remains widely used in the United States, where its use more than doubled from 2014 to 2018, according to government data. Thousands of individuals have sued Syngenta and other makers of paraquat, alleging that exposure to the herbicide caused them to develop Parkinson's disease, a debilitating, incurable neurological disorder.  

Federal paraquat lawsuits in the US have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Southern District of Illinois. As of October 14, the paraquat MDL included a total of 2,009 active cases, according to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML).  

Without revealing how exactly the documents were obtained, the Guardian does say that the paraquat MDL was the source of the confidential documents on which its report is based. While these documents have yet to be revealed publicly, their inclusion in the MDL shows that attorneys for the plaintiffs already are aware of their contents, namely that the information Syngenta presented publicly as to the safety of paraquat differed drastically from what the company's own scientists knew to be true.  

A Half Century of Deception  

One of the most striking elements of the Guardian's report is the length of time for which the deception has continued, going on for well over a half century and across numerous corporate entities.  

"[T]he documents show that insiders feared they could face legal liability for long-term, chronic effects of paraquat as long ago as 1975," the Guardian reported. "One company scientist called the situation 'a quite terrible problem' for which 'some plan could be made.'"  

Ray Dorsey, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Center for Health + Technology in New York who wrote a book about the rapid increase in Parkinson's diagnoses told the Guardian that "Paraquat is considered the most toxic herbicide ever created."  

Despite evidence the contrary, Syngenta and the MDL's other defendant, Chevron U.S.A., continue to deny any connection between paraquat and Parkinson's disease. A former subsidiary of Chevron U.S.A. held the license for paraquat in the US until 1986.  

"To this day, and despite hundreds of studies being conducted in the past 20 or so years, a causal link between Paraquat and Parkinson's disease has not been established," Chevron U.S.A. told the Guardian.  

Despite these denials, internal documents demonstrate that for decades scientists working for the makers of paraquat "were aware of evidence that exposure to paraquat could impair the central nervous system (CNS), triggering tremors and other symptoms in experimental animals similar to those suffered by people with Parkinson's."  

Further, a "1975 Chevron communication speaks of concerns about allegations of 'permanent CNS effects from paraquat'" and in "October 1985, an internal memorandum circulated to Chevron officials noted that a study by a Canadian researcher had found 'an extraordinarily high correlation' between Parkinson's and the use of pesticides, including paraquat. The memo also noted that paraquat was 'chemically very similar' to the byproduct of synthetic heroin called MTPT, 'which produces almost instant Parkinson's, by killing dopaminergic neurons in the brain.'"  

Profit over Public Health  

Despite its predecessors having known for decades the safety risk paraquat posed, Syngenta has pursued an aggressive offensive strategy aimed at convincing regulators, key academics, and the public at large that, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, paraquat did not pose a threat to public health when used properly by trained professionals. Again and again, the documents reveal that the company's top priority was protecting its cash cow, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars in sales annually, at the expense of public health.   

"'The issue around the claims that paraquat exposure and Parkinson's disease are linked needs to be addressed if the future Syngenta aspirations for the product are to be realised,'" said one Syngenta document.    

Rather than take steps to make its product safer, however, Syngenta instead "began honing a broader 'influencing' strategy and 'freedom to sell' strategy." This multipronged approach involved flooding the scientific literature with studies funded by Syngenta, including studies intended to be submitted directly to regulatory bodies in the US and the UK.  

The documents reviewed by the Guardian also show that Syngenta cherry picked which studies it would make public, releasing the results of those that bolstered its claims as to paraquat's safety and concealing evidence of paraquat's devastating impact on the central nervous system.  

For example, in 2003, Syngenta conducted a laboratory experiment in which mice were exposed to paraquat and their brains were then examined for signs of damage. However, rather than using an automated technique to measure brain loss, as outside researchers had, Syngenta strangely employed a manual counting method, which found no statistically significant impact on the dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra of the mice's brains. Unsurprisingly, Syngenta chose to make these generally positive findings public.  

As the Guardian describes, "What the company did not publicize at the time, however, was the fact that Syngenta scientist Louisa Marks, who led the animal studies in question, repeated those studies using the more accurate automated technique used by independent scientists."   

The results? Marks found in not just one but two subsequent studies, both of which used the more precise automated measurements, that "paraquat did result in a statistically significant loss of the relevant brain cells."    

Conclusion  

That the Guardian obtained these bombshell documents from the paraquat MDL is a strong indication of the strength of the plaintiffs' case against Syngenta and Chevron U.S.A. As horrifying as their contents are, these documents confirm many of the MDL's most serious, and damning, allegations about the defendants' highly orchestrated, decades-long efforts to mislead the public and regulators about paraquat's safety. That they are now in the hands of the MDL plaintiffs greatly increases the likelihood that justice, at long last, might be done.  

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!  

Sources:  

Gillam, Caray and Aliya Uteuova. (20 October 2022). Secret files suggest chemical giant feared weedkiller's link to Parkinson's Disease. The Guardian.  

United States Geological Survey. (Last modified 12 October 2021). Estimated Agricultural Use for Paraquat, 2018 (Preliminary). National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project.  

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). MDL Statistics Report - Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District.

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: New Cases Flood Paraquat MDL As Plaintiffs Seek Defense Expert Docs

October 11, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease continues to add new cases at a rapid clip, with more than 40 new cases joining the MDL during the week of October 3-7 alone, court records show.  

Meanwhile, the MDL plaintiffs have filed a motion asking the court to compel the defendants to produce documents and records relating to the defense’s expert witnesses in a prior case.  

The paraquat MDL stems from a large body of medical research showing that the highly toxic herbicide can cause Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions due to the damage it does to human nerve cells. A large number of the plaintiffs in the paraquat MDL are farmers and agricultural workers who were exposed to paraquat on a regular basis for years or even decades and later were diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Other plaintiffs include individuals who were exposed to paraquat via environmental contamination, such as by drinking contaminated well water or living on lands subject to paraquat drift.  

The defendants in the case include US oil giant Chevron, whose chemical division owned the rights to paraquat in the United States until 1986, and the Chinese-owned Syngenta, who presently sells paraquat under the brand name Gramoxone.  

As of September 15, the most recent date for which official data is available, the paraquat MDL. included a total of 1,925 active cases.  

On October 7, the paraquat MDL plaintiffs filed a motion to compel seeking production of the defendants’ expert materials, which the defendants to date have refused to hand over despite the court telling them to do so on numerous prior occasions dating back more than a year.  

“The defense expert materials are critical evidence directly related to Plaintiffs’ claims and are needed to ensure that Defendants’ expert opinions and testimony are consistent with prior opinions and testimony and, if not, to allow appropriate cross-examination regarding any changed opinions or testimony,” the plaintiffs argue in their motion.  

Specifically, the plaintiffs are asking the court “to compel Defendants to produce Defendants’ expert reports and exhibits thereto, along with all reliance materials, as well as Defendants’ expert deposition transcripts and videotapes and all exhibits thereto” related to an Illinois state-court case known as Hoffman.  

“Before the In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation MDL was formed, similar cases involving paraquat were pending for several years in St. Clair County, Illinois,” the judge presiding over the paraquat MDL explained in a September 2021 order also addressing the Hoffman case. “[Hoffman] was one of the St. Clair County cases set for trial in May 2021. To date, the Hoffman matter remains pending.”  

While it remains to be seen how the court will rule on the plaintiffs’ motion to compel, one thing seems certain: the number of paraquat cases will continue to rise. Despite being banned in numerous countries around the world due to its many known health risks, paraquat remains legal in the United States, where its use has increased dramatically in recent years.  

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after long-term, regular exposure to paraquat (Gramoxone), contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!    

Sources:  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (8 October 2022). Civil Docket for Case #: 3:21-md-03004. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation v. Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC.  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (7 October 2022). Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel Production of Defendants’ Hoffman Expert Materials. Case No. 3:21-md-03004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 3004.  

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 September 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District.  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (3 September 2021). Order. Case 3:21-md-03004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 3004.

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat Litigation Continues to Add New Cases at Rapid Pace

October 3, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs in litigation over the pesticide paraquat have filed a motion seeking sanctions against attorneys for defendant Chevron, alleging that they improperly coached the deposition of a witness, blocking him from answering certain questions and refusing to turn over relevant information relating to his deposition.   

Nearly 2,000 federal lawsuits filed by plaintiffs alleging that exposure to paraquat caused them to develop Parkinson’s disease have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Southern District of Illinois. The paraquat MDL included a total of 1,925 active cases as of September 15, according to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). The vast majority of the plaintiffs are farmers and agricultural workers who were exposed to paraquat in the course of doing their jobs.   

The September 20 motion for sanctions asserts that Sharyl Reisman—an attorney for Chevron and a partner at white-shoe law firm Jones Day—improperly instructed Dr. Richard Cavalli not to answer certain questions during a deposition that took place on August 22 and 23. Additionally, the motion for sanctions alleges that Chevron lawyers and Dr. Cavalli “had met ‘several’ times for approximately 2-5 hours each to prepare for his deposition” and that Chevron is wrong in refusing to hand over documents and information relating to those communications.   

It was precisely when Dr. Cavalli was asked about these prior meetings during his August deposition that Reisman, the Chevron attorney, instructed him not to answer. He also was instructed not to answer questions pertaining to certain documents that he had reviewed in preparation for his testimony. Cavalli served as a Chevron toxicologist from 1969 until 1999, with his work including paraquat until 1986.   

The plaintiffs’ arguments as to the impropriety of the actions of Chevron’s lawyers center on the legal distinction between so-called “reporting” and “non-reporting” expert witnesses. (Sometimes they are referred to as “retained” and “non-retained” experts.) Whereas some expert witnesses are required by law to furnish the court with an official report, others—the non-reporting experts—are not. These non-reporting experts are able to testify on both matters of fact as well as their own expert opinions, making them something of a hybrid between the two usual categories of fact witnesses and expert witnesses. Unlike with reporting experts, the correspondence between non-reporting experts and counsel is not subject to attorney-client privilege, which means it must be shared with opposing counsel.   

Because Dr. Cavalli qualifies as a non-reporting witness, the plaintiffs argue, his communications with Chevron’s lawyers are not privileged and were, therefor, a proper subject of inquiry at his deposition. However, those questions were blocked by Reisman, an act which the plaintiffs say is sanctionable, particularly because the plaintiffs’ attorneys claim to have raised the issue with Reisman multiple times both on and off the record during Cavalli’s deposition, yet Reisman persisted in her obstructive actions. Further, plaintiffs argue that all of the documents in question and all of the communications between Chevron’s lawyers and Dr. Cavalli also should be turned over.   

“Dr. Cavalli unequivocally testified that he was provided and reviewed documents in preparation for his deposition; Ms. Reisman confirmed this during the course of her objections, where she instructed Dr. Cavalli not to disclose these documents,” the plaintiffs’ motion states. “Because Dr. Cavalli is a non-retained expert, Chevron has no basis upon which to withhold any information about the documents Dr. Cavalli was provided and reviewed in preparation for his deposition…Dr. Cavalli and Defendants should therefore be compelled to produce all communications, materials and documents provided to or considered by Dr. Cavalli, including any used to prepare for testimony and/or form his opinions.”   

But the plaintiffs’ lawyers did not stop there, further demanding that Dr. Cavalli be made available for a second deposition at Chevron’s expense, citing not only its lawyers’ conduct at Dr. Cavalli’s deposition but at the depositions of numerous other witnesses, as well.   

“Plaintiffs came prepared to take Dr. Cavalli’s depositions but were prevented from completing their examination by Defense counsel’s improper instructions for Dr. Cavalli not to answer appropriate questions seeking plainly discoverable information,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers argue, adding later, “Chevron’s tactics are consistent with its handling of other depositions, which included inappropriate conduct, such as interposing more than 300 objections in a single deposition.”   

The plaintiffs’ lawyers therefore request that “Chevron’s counsel be sanctioned in a manner that is proportional to the violations of the rules she intentionally committed at Dr. Cavalli’s deposition.”   

For the plaintiffs to seek court-ordered sanctions shows the high level of tension that exists between the parties in the paraquat MDL. The defendants include Chevron, which distributed paraquat in the US until 1986, and Syngenta, which presently sells paraquat in the US under the brand name Gramoxone. Syngenta is owned by Sinochem Holdings, a massive state-run Chinese conglomerate that, according to its website, has “operations in eight business sectors covering life science, materials science, petrochemicals, environmental science, rubber & tire, machinery & equipment, city operation, and industrial finance.”   

In June 2021, Syngenta settled an unknown number of paraquat lawsuits for a total of $187.5 million, according to Reuters.   

Paraquat is a highly toxic compound that has long been connected to Parkinson’s disease and other nervous system conditions. Due to paraquat’s known health risks, its use has been banned in dozens of countries, including China and the member states of the European Union. However, in the United States, not only does paraquat use remain legal, it has been skyrocketing in recent years, more than doubling from 2014 to 2018, according to the US Geological Survey. Paraquat is applied to a wide range of crops, but primarily soybeans, cotton, and orchards/grapes.   

Despite the contentiousness between the opposing parties, the paraquat MDL continues to make its way toward its first bellwether trial, which recently was postponed from November 2022 until sometime in 2023.   

If you have developed Parkinson’s disease following long-term, regular exposure to paraquat (Gramoxone), contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!     

Sources:   

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (20 September 2022). Plaintiffs’ motion and memorandum in support of plaintiffs’ motion to compel and motion for sanctions relating to the deposition of non-retained expert Richard Cavalli. Case No. 3:21-md-03004. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL 3004.   

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 September 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District.   

Sinochem Website. (Accessed 27 September 2022). About Us. Summary.   

Pierson, Brendan. (21 September 2022). Chevron lawyers at Jones Day face sanction bid over work on herbicide lawsuit. Reuters.   

United States Geological Survey. (Last modified 12 October 2021). Estimated Agricultural Use for Paraquat, 2018 (Preliminary). National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project.

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat Litigation Continues to Add New Cases at Rapid Pace

August 2, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s Disease continues to add cases at a very rapid pace, with the court docket showing more than 65 new cases during the week from July 25 through July 29 alone.   

As of July 15—the most recent date for which official statistics are available—the paraquat MDL included 1,448 active cases. Of these cases, six have been selected for “full work up” in preparation for bellwether trials. Depositions of nonexpert and expert witnesses currently are scheduled to continue through the late summer and into the fall.   

Despite initially establishing an ambitious pre-trial calendar that recognized the fast-acting and devastating nature of Parkinson’s Disease and a desire for plaintiffs to have their day in court, the presiding judge subsequently has been forced to postpone deadlines on a number of occasions, most recently in mid-June.  

Research demonstrating a link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s Disease dates back decades, and numerous countries around the world—including the member states of the European Union and China—have banned paraquat use outright due to its known health risks. Bucking this trend, paraquat use in the United States stunningly has been on the rise in recent years, more than doubling from less than 5 million pounds dispensed in 2012 to well above 10 million pounds in 2016.   

Defendants in the paraquat MDL include the Switzerland-based company Syngenta—which developed paraquat and sells the highly toxic substance under the brand name Gramoxone—and Chevron USA, which holds the license to sell paraquat in the United States. Outside analysts believe the companies collectively could be on the hook for billions of dollars in liabilities arising from lawsuits like those centralized in the paraquat MDL.   

“I can see these companies offering several billion dollars just to make this go away,” law professor Richard Ausness of the University of Kentucky told Bloomberg. Ausness specializes in products liability litigation such as that involving paraquat. “Parkinson’s Disease has a long, expensive tail that will drive up the cost of settling these cases.”   

Despite the defendant companies continuing to deny any connection between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, Syngenta’s June 2021 financial disclosures included the revelation that it had funded a $187.5 million settlement with an undisclosed number of paraquat plaintiffs.   

“On June 1, 2021, Syngenta reached a master settlement agreement with certain paraquat claimants,” the disclosures stated in Note 12: Commitments and Contingencies. “In exchange for (and contingent upon) dismissal of all pending cases by the counsel of the claimants and a broad release from certain covered claimants, Syngenta will pay $187.5 million into a settlement fund…The payment was made on July 21, 2021. Syngenta believes that all of these claims are without merit and the settlement agreement is solely for the purpose of bringing an end to these claims.”   

Despite Syngenta and Chevron’s repeated assertions that paraquat-related claims against them have no merit, the evidence strongly suggests otherwise.   

“[T]he weight of the evidence would seem to be against paraquat in any litigation,” financial analyst Garry Mabon told Bloomberg.   

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after having been exposed to paraquat on a regular basis over a long period of time, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!   

Sources:   

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (Accessed 30 July 2022). Docket. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 3004.   

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 July 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District.  

United States Geological Survey. (Last modified 12 October 2021). Estimated Agricultural Use for Paraquat, 2018 (Preliminary). National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project.   

Feeley, Jef. (13 September 2021). Syngenta, Chevron Could Face Billions in Claims over Weed Killer. Bloomberg.   

Syngenta. (2021). Financial Results First Half 2021. Bond Investor Information.

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Nears 1500 Cases as Discovery Deadlines Postponed Again

July 19, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the herbicide paraquat continues to grow at a rapid clip, reach 1,448 cases as of July 15, according to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML).   

The paraquat MDL has centralized lawsuits alleging that paraquat caused the plaintiff or a deceased individual to develop Parkinson’s disease. Although medical research documenting the strong link between paraquat and Parkinson’s goes back decades—leading to bans in many other countries—paraquat remains highly popular in the United States, where its use doubled from 2014 to 2018.   

The defendants in the paraquat MDL include American oil giant Chevron U.S.A., which holds the rights to paraquat in the US, and the Swiss company Syngenta, which sells paraquat under the brand name Gramoxone.   

Of the nearly 1,500 cases presently in the paraquat MDL, six have been selected as potential bellwether cases. These six cases currently are undergoing “full work-up,” which involves the entire panoply of case-specific discovery that takes place prior to a trial. From these cases, one will become the MDL’s first bellwether trial.   

In mid-June, the court filed an amended discovery schedule governing these three cases. Under the revised schedule, most non-expert depositions are to be completed by August 12; defendant depositions of plaintiff experts must be done by November 18; and plaintiffs depositions of defendant experts shall be concluded by January 13, 2023. Dates for motions and briefings on expert witnesses “will be set at a later date.”   

Despite the delays, “the Court reiterates its intent to have all six trial selection cases fully worked up for trial,” the order states. “At this time, the Court does not plan to further reduce the number of cases in the trial pool.”   

Given the new deadlines, it appears that the first bellwether trial will not be held until sometime in mid-2023 at the very earliest.   

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease following long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!   

  Sources:   

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 July 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District.   

United States Geological Survey. (Last modified 12 October 2021). Estimated Agricultural Use for Paraquat, 2018 (Preliminary). National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project.   

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (17 June 2022). Third Order Amending Discovery Schedule. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 3004.

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Parties in Paraquat MDL Agree to Terms on Pretrial Medical Exams

June 8, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

The parties in multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the herbicide paraquat have come to an agreement on the terms governing medical examinations to be conducted as part of the pretrial discovery process, as outlined in a letter submitted to the court by defendant Syngenta on June 6.      

The paraquat MDL has centralized over 1,150 federal cases alleging that the herbicide—popular in the US but banned in many other countries due to its known health risks—causes Parkinson’s disease. The claims are based on decades of medical science showing that paraquat does serious damage to the nerve cells of animals, including humans. The defendants include Syngenta, which sells paraquat under the brand name Gramoxone, and Chevron U.S.A., which holds the license to paraquat in the US.   

As the MDL makes its way toward its first bellwether trial, the number of potential bellwether cases has been whittled down to six cases that were selected for further discovery. As part of this additional discovery process, the plaintiffs will need to undergo a medical examination conducted by an expert selected by the defendants.   

In a May 5 order, the court compelled the remaining six plaintiffs to “submit to medical examinations” and instructed the parties “work together to schedule those examinations starting immediately.”   

The result of the parties’ subsequent efforts was the June 6 letter describing in great detail the terms of their agreement on medical examinations.   

“Defense counsel shall provide individual plaintiff counsel and MDL Co-Lead Counsel with the name, qualifications, and curriculum vitae of the examiner for each plaintiff at least five days before each scheduled examination,” the letter states. “Counsel shall work together to schedule the date, time, and location of each examination. The locations shall be within 50 miles of where the plaintiff resides.”   

The letter limits the scope of the examination to “the neurological injuries claimed by the Plaintiffs in this case.”   

It hcontinues, “The examiner may take the Plaintiffs’ history, including environmental, social, occupational, medical and family history, and may inquire as to any topic that in the examiner’s judgment is potentially relevant to the diagnosis, progression, or potential cause of Plaintiffs’ neurological condition. However, the examiner shall not inquire about Plaintiff’s exposure to paraquat as that information has been provided to Defendants.”   

The parties have agreed not to allow any videotaping of the examinations, and, while examiners are given broad leeway in using the examination techniques they deem appropriate to elicit the information necessary to make their determinations, exams are limited in length to two hours. Plaintiffs are instructed to wear short-sleeve shirts and shorts to the examination to prevent the need for disrobing. Finally, plaintiffs are permitted to bring up to one attorney and one family member to the examination, but no one is allowed to interfere in any way with the examination itself, unless addressed directly by the examiner.   

As the six remaining cases in the paraquat MDL move further through the additional discovery process, one ultimately will be selected for the highly anticipated first bellwether trial. Meanwhile, new cases continue to join the rapidly growing MDL on a near-daily basis.   

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease following long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!   

  Sources:   

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (7 June 2022). Agreed Defense Medical Examination Protocol. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. MDL No. 3004   

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (16 May 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District   

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (3 May 2022). Order Amending Discovery Schedule. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. MDL No. 3004

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Passes 1150 Cases

May 30, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease has passed 1,150 active cases, data released May 16 shows.   

The paraquat MDL has been gaining cases at a rapid clip for a number of months, something outside observers long ago predicted given the prevalence of paraquat use in the United States. In addition to paraquat’s high level of toxicity (just a small sip can be fatal, the connection between paraquat and serious damage to the nerve cells of humans and animals has long been established. Numerous countries throughout the world—including the member states of the European Union and China—have banned the use of paraquat due to the known health risks.   

However, as recently as July 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a mandatory review of paraquat’s safety and, rather than banning the herbicide outright or heavily restricting its use, the agency recommended only “mitigation measures to reduce the risks associated with paraquat in order to protect human health and the environment.”   

Paraquat Toxicity – The “Most Deadly Killer Since the Atom Bomb”   

According to a March 2021 joint report by The Intercept and Le Monde, in the past 40 years, “tens of thousands of people have died of paraquat poisoning.” In the 1960s and 1970s, as paraquat use spread around the globe, the world suffered a large number of such poisonings, many from accidental consumption and some involving children.   

“In Ireland, where 92 people died after ingesting paraquat between 1967 and 1977, a physician who watched a perfectly healthy man die after drinking paraquat dubbed the pesticide the ‘most deadly killer since the atom bomb,’” The Intercept and Le Monde reported.   

Despite the large number of deaths, the report details how employees of Syngenta long resisted efforts to reduce the risk of paraquat poisoning by adding a chemical that would induce vomiting to Gramoxone, their paraquat product. And, even when Syngenta did add such a chemical, known as an emetic, to Gramoxone in 1986 in an effort to prevent the product from being banned in the US, it lied about the science and included the emetic at such low concentrations that it failed to make any difference in terms of safety, The Intercept and Le Monde reported.   

Syngenta is a defendant in the current paraquat MDL, along with Chevron, whose subsidiary Chevron Chemical Co. “manufactured, distributed, and sold ICI’s [Syngenta’s] paraquat products in the U.S. until 1986.”   

Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease   

Beyond paraquat’s known toxicity, evidence of the connection between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease has existed since at least the mid-1980s when a Canadian neuroscientist noted the number of young Canadian farmers experiencing neurological ailments normally only seen in much older patients. Another doctor identified the same pattern in a study published in the journal Neurology in 1987, and a study published in 1990 found that those involved in spraying paraquat were six times likelier to develop Parkinson’s disease.   

Based on the body of evidence, many countries around the world have decided to ban the use of paraquat outright. In a shocking contrast, paraquat use in the United States has increased dramatically in recent years. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), from 1992 to 2014, the use of paraquat in the US remained somewhat consistent at well under 5 million pounds annually. However, beginning in 2014, paraquat use suddenly began to increase dramatically, more than doubling to well over 10 million pounds annually by 2018, the last year for which data is available.   

According to the USGS, while soybeans, cotton, and orchards/grapevines account for the bulk of paraquat used in the US, paraquat is applied to virtually every kind of crop including corn, wheat, vegetables/fruits, alfalfa, and hay.   

Tragically, the fact that paraquat use in the United States more than doubled between 2012 and 2018 means that a growing number of people are being exposed to this highly toxic, dangerous substance on a regular basis. In September 2021, environmental advocacy group the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s July 2021 decision to allow paraquat to remain on the US market.   

“The Biden EPA’s decision to reapprove widespread use, including aerial spraying, of this highly lethal pesticide shocks the conscience,” Nathan Doley, environmental health science director for the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement issued at the time of the lawsuit’s filing. “Although much of the rest of the world has banned this dangerous poison, thanks to our rubber-stamp pesticide-approval process its use will continue to increase here in the United States, even as scientific studies reveal stronger links between paraquat use and neurological harm in both people and wildlife.”     

Paraquat Litigation   

As the paraquat MDL continues to add cases, the parties and the court are preparing for the first bellwether trial, which is scheduled to begin next fall. However, in order to make that ambitious trial date, the parties will need to adhere to an aggressive pre-trial schedule. Recently, the potential bellwether cases were whittled down to six, one of which ultimately will be selected for the MDL’s first trial.   

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!     

Sources:   

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (16 May 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District   

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Accessed 27 May 2022). Paraquat Dichloride   

Lerner, Sharon. (24 March 2021). The paraquat poisoning problem. The Intercept and Le Monde   

United States Geological Survey. (Last modified 12 October 2021). Estimated Agricultural Use for Paraquat, 2018 (Preliminary). National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Judge Suspends May 16 Discovery Deadline

May 11, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

In an order issued May 3, the judge presiding over multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving the herbicide paraquat suspended the May 16 deadline to complete fact discovery and medical examinations for six cases selected for “full work up.” Per the order, a new deadline will be discussed at a May 13 status conference.  

The paraquat MDL, located in the Southern District of Illinois, has centralized federal products liability lawsuits filed by plaintiffs alleging that they or a deceased individual developed Parkinson’s disease due to their exposure to paraquat. The link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease has been well-established through years of medical research. Knowledge of these and other health risks—including its extreme toxicity—have led numerous countries to ban the use of paraquat, but it remains widely used in the United States. 

As of April 15, the fast-growing paraquat MDL included 982 cases, according to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), the body responsible for establishing and overseeing MDLs.     

The now-suspended May 16 discovery deadline had been established in an April order identifying the six cases that would undergo further case-specific discovery. One of these cases ultimately will be selected as the MDL’s first bellwether case, the trial for which is currently slated to begin in November.     

The suspension of the discovery deadline is an indication that the court’s ambitious schedule for starting the first bellwether trial might be at risk. Though the order only specifically suspends the deadlines for fact discovery and medical examinations, it says that expert discovery deadlines are to be discussed at the May 13 status conference, meaning that the entire pretrial process might be delayed.     

While the May 3 order does not state a specific reason for the indefinite postponement, the order does reference the large number of fact witnesses that had been identified by the six plaintiffs.     

“It has come to the Court’s attention that, while Defendants have identified a combined 16 additional fact witnesses, Plaintiffs have identified at least 121 additional fact witnesses,” the May 3 order states. “Deposing this number of witnesses, some of whom are not even identified by name, is simply implausible.”    

The Court responded by limiting “the parties to one non-medical fact witness of Defendants’ choice and one medical witness to be agreed upon by the parties” and by capping the length of medical-witness depositions at three hours.    

Whenever it is held, the first bellwether trial will go a long way in revealing the strengths of the plaintiffs’ claims before a live jury. With paraquat having been widely used  in the United States for a number of decades, the potential number of victims is, tragically, potentially in the many thousands.    

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkison’s disease after long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, call TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!    

Sources:    

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (3 May 2022). Order Amending Discovery Schedule. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 3004    

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 April 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District    

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (13 April 2022). Order Selecting Plaintiffs for Further Case-Specific Discovery. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. MDL No. 3004

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Judge Names Six Cases for Further Case-Specific Discovery

April 25, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the herbicide paraquat has taken another significant step toward its first bellwether trial, with the court naming six cases for further case-specific discovery. One of these six cases ultimately will be selected as the paraquat MDL’s first bellwether.  

Located in the Southern District of Illinois, the paraquat MDL has centralized nearly 1,000 federal lawsuits involving allegations that the widely used herbicide causes Parkinson’s disease and similar ailments of the nervous system. Paraquat has been banned in many countries—including the member states of the European Union and China—due to its well-documented health risks, yet it remains legal to use in the United States.   

On April 13, United States District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel issued an order selecting plaintiffs for further case-specific discovery, whittling the 16 cases that had been chosen for limited fact discovery down to six. The selections in both rounds were based on recommendations from the parties.   

“[T]he Court ordered the Parties to select a total of 16 cases for limited fact discovery,” Judge Rosenstengel summarized in the April 13 order. “After completing that limited discovery, the Parties were directed to rank the cases in order of their preference and to provide the Court with a one-page report on each case describing its strengths and weaknesses and indicating whether it is representative of the cases in this MDL.”   

Pursuant to a previously established schedule, the parties are to have disclosed additional fact witnesses for the six cases selected for “full work up” by April 22. Fact discovery and medical examinations are to have been completed by May 16, with expert depositions taking place through the summer and into the fall.   

The first bellwether trial has been scheduled to begin in November 2022.   

Claims brought by the plaintiffs against defendants Syngenta and Chevron include strict product liability (design defect), strict product liability (failure to warn), negligence, and breach of implied warranty of merchantability.   

  Inside One of the Six Finalists for First Bellwether   

One of the six cases selected for further case-specific discovery in the paraquat MDL is that of Robert Dean Walkington and Vickie Elaine Walkington, husband-and-wife plaintiffs who allege that Robert’s Parkinson’s disease was caused by his exposure to paraquat.   

“Plaintiff Robert Dean Walkington is a citizen and resident of the State of Illinois who suffers from Parkinson’s disease (‘PD’) caused by exposure to paraquat at various places within the state of Illinois,” the Walkington’s lawsuit says.   

In order to establish the defendants’ culpability, Walkington’s lawsuit spends roughly a dozen pages describing a labyrinthine corporate history dating back nearly 100 years by which they allege named defendants Syngenta AG, Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, and Chevron U.S.A. Inc. are now responsible for Robert’s condition. At least some of this convoluted history, the lawsuit asserts, has been part of a concerted effort by the defendants to evade legal responsibility.   

“SAG [Syngenta AG] has purposefully organized the Syngenta Group, including SCPLLC [Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC] in such a way as to attempt to evade the authority of the courts in jurisdictions in which it does substantial business,” the lawsuit alleges. “Although the formal legal structure of Syngenta Group is designed to suggest otherwise, SAG in fact exercises an unusually high degree of control over its country-specific business units, including SPCLLC.”     

Through decades of corporate machinations, Syngenta has come to own the rights to paraquat globally, a right that it has sometimes sublicensed to entities in various countries. In the case of the US, the licenses for many rights pertaining to paraquat are held by oil-giant Chevron.   

“In the mid-2000s, Chevron USA entered into an agreement in which it expressly assumed the liabilities of Chevron Chemical and Chevron Chemical LLC arising from Chevron Chemical’s then-discontinued agrichemical business, which included the design, registration, manufacture, formulation, packaging, labeling, distribution, marketing and sale of paraquat products in the United States as alleged in this Complaint,” the Walkington’s lawsuit explains.   

  A Fast-Growing MDL   

Tragically, the paraquat MDL has continued to add cases at a rapid clip, growing from 688 cases in mid-February to 875 cases as of mid-March to 982 cases on April 15, according to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), an increase of over 40% in just two months.     

Unfortunately, given the widespread use and high toxicity of paraquat, it has long been expected that paraquat litigation would grow to include thousands of casesl.   

“Paraquat is highly toxic. One small sip can be fatal and there is no antidote,” the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website explains starkly regarding paraquat’s impact on human health.   

Still, in summer 2021, the EPA released an interim decision on its mandatory review of paraquat’s safety, that, instead of banning paraquat outright, sought to institute a meager set of “mitigation measures” aimed at supposedly making paraquat use less dangerous to workers and others in surrounding areas. These measures included: “Limiting aerial applications and requiring residential buffers”; “Prohibiting pressurized handgun and backpack sprayer applications”; “Requiring enclosed cabs or respirators for groundboom applications”; and “Increasing the Restricted Entry Interval (REI) for several crops”.   

“The agency has taken proactive steps to ensure paraquat is used in a manner that will not cause unreasonable adverse effects to human health or the environment,” the EPA said in an August 2, 2021 statement about the interim decision on paraquat.   

As for paraquat’s potential for causing Parkinson’s disease, the EPA said specifically, “There are many studies on paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease that range in quality and provide conflicting results.”   

Unfortunately, the EPA’s decision to allow paraquat to continue to be used in the United States likely will lead to many more needlessly ruined lives, and many more paraquat lawsuits.     

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to paraquat on a regular basis over a long period of time, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!     

Sources:   

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (13 April 2022). Order Selecting Plaintiffs for Further Case-Specific Discovery. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. MDL No. 3004   

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (16 June 2021). Complaint. Robert Dean Walkington and Vickie Elaine Walkington v. Syngenta AG, Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, and Chevron U.S.A. Inc. Case 3:21-pq-0060   

Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (16 March 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District   

Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 April 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District.   

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Accessed 22 April 2022). Paraquat Dichloride. EPA Website.   

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2 August 2021). EPA finalizes new, stronger safety measures for pesticide paraquat. EPA Website

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Adds Nearly 200 Cases in One Month, Closes in on 900 Total

March 30, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

In the month from mid-February to mid-March, nearly 200 new cases joined multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that the widely used herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease, an increase of more than 25%, court records show.  

According to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation—the body responsible for overseeing MDLs in the US—the paraquat MDL grew from 688 active cases on February 15 to 875 cases as of March 16.  

Given the widespread use of paraquat in the US over a number of decades, observers have anticipated that the paraquat MDL likely could grow into the several thousands of cases. While many of the plaintiffs are farmworkers who were directly exposed to paraquat when they mixed the chemical or applied it to fields—often without adequate protective equipment—other plaintiffs claim environmental exposure via herbicide drift and contaminated drinking water.  

In a minor victory, defendants Chevron U.S.A. and Syngenta succeeded in having the court dismiss certain of the plaintiffs’ claims against them, including nuisance claims and some consumer protection claims.  

However, the bulk of the plaintiffs’ claims survived, and the MDL continues to make its way toward its first bellwether trial. Given the severity and fast-moving nature of Parkinson’s disease, the court is making a concerted effort to expedite proceedings. In the same order dismissing the nuisance and consumer protection claims, the court also gave the defendants 30 days to file their responses to the complaints of 16 plaintiffs selected as potential bellwether cases.  

In mid-April, these 16 cases will be whittled down further, with the remaining cases then undergoing a “full work up” that involves fact discovery, medical examinations, expert depositions, and more, a process that presently is schedule to proceed into September 2022.  

Scientific research has shown for years that paraquat causes serious damage to nerve cells in animals including humans using largely the same chemical mechanisms that make it such an effective killer of plant cells. Despite many countries having banned paraquat use due to the health risks, it still is legal to use in the United States.  

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!    

Sources:  

Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (16 March 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District  

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 February 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (14 March 2022). Order Dismissing Additional Claims. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Adds New Cases at Rapid Rate

March 14, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease continues to add cases at an incredibly rapid pace, with roughly 50 new cases joining the mass tort litigation during just the week running from March 7 to March 11, court records show. This figure actually represented a decline over the previous week (February 28 through March 4), when more than 70 new cases were added, meaning that well over 100 cases joined the Paraquat MDL in the first half of March alone.  

The last official count, released on February 15, showed 688 active cases in the MDL.  

Meanwhile, the litigation continues to make it way through complex pretrial proceedings. On March 7, Chief US District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel issued an order amending discovery deadlines for 16 cases that have been selected as potential bellwether cases. Additionally, the court directed the parties “to rank the 16 cases in order of preference and provide the Court with a report” explaining their rankings.  

From those 16 cases, the court will “select cases for full work up” by April 15, with discovery on those cases scheduled to continue into fall 2022.  

In multidistrict litigation, so-called “bellwether trials” are conducted using cases that are representative of other cases in the MDL. Bellwethers are intended not only to resolve the cases at hand but also to help guide settlement discussions for other cases by testing the strength of the plaintiffs’ claims before a live jury.  

The defendants in the case include Syngenta, which sells paraquat under the brand name GRAMOXONE, and Chevron USA, which holds the license to paraquat in the United States.  

Despite being banned due to safety risks in many countries, including China and the member states of the European Union, paraquat remains one of the most widely used herbicides in the US. For decades, research has shown that paraquat does serious damage to the nerve cells of animals, including humans, using the same mechanisms that make it such an effective killer of vegetation.  

Plaintiffs in the paraquat MDL allege that they developed Parkinson’s disease or similar conditions following long-term, regular exposure to paraquat. They include both those whose jobs involved mixing and applying paraquat as well as others who claim they were exposed via the environment, such as through herbicide drift from nearby fields and/or contaminated water.  

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease following long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!  

  Sources:  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (13 March 2022). Docket. Case 3:21-md-03004. MDL No. 3004. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation v. Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC et al  

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 February 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (7 March 2022). Amended Protocol for the Selection of Trial Cases. Case 3:21-md-03004. MDL No. 3004. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation v. Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC et al.

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Grows By More Than 20% In One Month

January 31, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease continues to expand at a rapid rate, adding more than 100 cases between mid-December and mid-January, an increase of nearly 25%, according to figures from the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.  

The court docket reflects such rapid growth, with the vast majority of entries for the month of January 2022 documenting the opening of new cases in the MDL.  

Despite only having been formed in June 2021, the Paraquat MDL has been proceeding at a rapid pace, with the court seeking to outrace the devastating impacts of Parkinson’s disease in order to give the plaintiffs their day in court seeking justice for their injuries.  

The connections between paraquat and Parkinson’s have been known to medical science for decades, with scientists even using paraquat to induce Parkinson’s-like disease in research animals. Despite many countries having already banned paraquat over health concerns, paraquat’s use continues to be allowed in the United States.  

Defendants in the Paraquat MDL include Switzerland-based Syngenta, which owns paraquat, and US oil giant Chevron, which holds the license to paraquat in the United States.  

While many plaintiffs are former farmworkers whose job it was to handle, mix, and/or disperse paraquat, other plaintiffs allege that they were exposed due to contaminated drinking water and drift from nearby fields.  

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after having regularly been exposed to paraquat over a long period of time, contact TheLawFirm.com now for a free legal consultation!    

Sources:  

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (19 January 2022). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District  

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 December 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (Accessed 30 January 2022). Civil Docket. Case 3:21-md-03004. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation

Paraquat Lawsuit Update: Paraquat MDL Approaches 500 Cases

January 4, 2022
Author: Daniel Gala

As multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s Disease makes its way through pretrial proceedings on its way to its first bellwether trial, new cases continue to join, with the total number reaching nearly 500 as the year comes to a close.  

Meanwhile, the MDL plaintiffs filed a formal request on December 24 asking the judge to personally review the depositions of three corporate witnesses for defendants Syngenta and Chevron. Plaintiffs argue that the defendants have improperly withheld turning over the depositions of these witnesses, in violation of court orders.  

The depositions in question involve two corporate witnesses for Syngenta—a Switzerland-based company that sells paraquat under the brand name GRAMOXONE—and one for Chevron, the American oil giant that owns the license to paraquat in the United States. The depositions all were taken as part of a separate Illinois state court case.  

“This Court unequivocally ordered Defendants to produce all non-expert witness deposition transcripts and exhibits,” the plaintiffs argue in their motion seeking in camera review of the deposition transcripts. “Yet, Defendants continue to refuse to produce these three—and only these three—non-expert witness deposition transcripts and exhibits.”  

An in camera review involves the judge looking over evidence that one party believes should be handed over to them and the other party believes they have a right to withhold. Following the review, the judge rules on whether or not the evidence must be given to the opposing party.  

For a party to withhold certain evidence, there must be a specific legal rule allowing for the exception, such as attorney-client privilege or the attorney-work-product rule.  

Plaintiffs assert that time is of the essence because depositions for the same two Syngenta corporate witnesses have been scheduled for late January and early February. Additionally, a Chevron corporate witness or witnesses (not necessarily including the same corporate witness as in the deposition transcript sought by plaintiffs) is set to be deposed “thereafter.”  

“The prior testimony of these corporate witnesses is needed before these depositions commence to ensure, among other things, that their testimony, as corporate designees, is consistent with prior testimony,” the plaintiff’s motion argues.  

Further, giving plaintiffs access to the deposition transcripts will also improve efficiency, they contend.  

“Any previously made party-admissions will increase the efficiency of the upcoming depositions, and the disclosure of the same promotes efficiency,” the plaintiff’s motion states.  

As for the defendants’ argument that these three deposition transcripts should be considered protected attorney work product, plaintiffs point out that these are the only non-expert witness depositions for which defendants have claimed such protection and that production of “deposition transcripts and exhibits were not challenged in state court and have been produced.”  

As of December 15, the paraquat MDL included 482 total cases, according to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, the judicial body tasked with overseeing MDLs.  

  Sources:  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (24 December 2021). Motion for In Camera Review. Case 3:21-md-03004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 3004  

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 December 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District.

Paraquat Update: Paraquat MDL: Court Gives Defendants Permission to Fill In Incomplete Plaintiff Authorizations

December 13, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

When litigating cases in which the facts involve the confidential medical information of the plaintiff, during the discovery process, plaintiffs must provide written authorizations permitting the defendants to access certain medical records relevant to the case. Similar authorizations are frequently needed to access employment or education records, as well. When litigation includes dozens if not hundreds of different cases, the process of obtaining and processing all of the required authorizations can become quite burdensome and time-consuming for the parties and for the court itself.  

The gathering of appropriate authorizations can become even more complicated yet when the litigation involves hundreds of cases and many plaintiffs fail to submit completed authorizations as directed by the court. Such is the case in multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the herbicide paraquat, in which the Special Master appointed by the court reported December 10 that many of the plaintiffs had submitted incomplete or incorrect authorizations.  

“After initial review of the submitted PAQs [Plaintiff Assessment Questionnaires] and authorizations, it is noted that certain Plaintiffs failed to upload materially completed authorizations,” the Special Master wrote in a report filed December 10. “Without completed authorizations, the parties will not be able to obtain Plaintiffs’ medical, employment and education records.”  

With the court seeking to maintain an aggressive schedule that leaves less than a year to go before the first bellwether trial is slated to begin in November 2022, any delays run the risk of postponing justice for the hundreds of plaintiffs who have joined the litigation.  

The paraquat MDL has centralized federal products liability lawsuits alleging—based on a decades-old and ever-growing body of scientific evidence—that exposure to paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease and similar conditions due to the damage it does to nerve cells. Plaintiffs include farmworkers whose job it was to mix and apply paraquat to crops directly, but other forms of paraquat exposure alleged by plaintiffs include drift and contaminated drinking water. The MDL’s defendants include the Switzerland-based company Syngenta, which sells paraquat under the brand name Gramoxone, and American oil giant Chevron, which holds the license to paraquat in the United States.    

Due to these known risks to human and animal health, paraquat use already has been banned in a number of countries, including China and the member states of the European Union.  

As of November 15, the paraquat MDL had 391 total cases.  

In an effort to avoid unnecessary delays caused by incomplete plaintiff authorizations, the Special Master recommended—and the court subsequently approved—a plan that would allow the defendants and their “authorized third-party litigation vendor, Litigation Management. Inc. (‘LMI’)” to “fill in any information necessary to complete the authorizations submitted with the PAQ, with the exception of a Plaintiff’s signature. This information includes adding a Plaintiff’s complete name, social security number, date of birth, any medical provider/employer identified in the PAQ, date for the Plaintiff’s signature, or any other information omitted from the authorization if that information is provided in the PAQ and is necessary to obtain the records.”  

It is unclear why a large number of plaintiffs would submit incomplete authorizations to the court, particularly when the same information is contained elsewhere in the plaintiffs’ submissions.    

In an order filed the same day as the Special Master’s report, the Court approved the Special Master’s recommendations with regards to plaintiff authorizations.  

The first bellwether trial is scheduled to begin November 15, 2022.    

Sources:  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (10 December 2021). Special Master’s Report and Recommendations Regarding Case Management Order No. 10. Case No. 3:21-md-03004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL 3004  

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (10 December 2021). Order Approving Special Master’s Report and Recommendations Regarding Case Management Order No. 10. Case No. 3:21-md-03004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL 3004  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (3 December 2021). Case Management Order No. 12 Protocol for the Selection of Trial Cases. Case 3:21-md-03004. MDL No. 3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation

Paraquat Update: Paraquat MDL Court Releases Pretrial Discovery Schedule, Protocol for Selection of Trial Cases

December 6, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

With less than one year left to go before the scheduled start date of the first bellwether trial, the court in multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the herbicide paraquat continues to push forward at a relatively rapid pace. On December 3, the court took another significant stride toward its goal of meeting its ambitious November 15, 2022 trial date, releasing its protocol for the selection of trial cases and establishing a number of significant pretrial deadlines.  

The paraquat MDL has centralized federal lawsuits filed against the makers, distributors, and sellers of paraquat, alleging that exposure to paraquat has given the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s loved one Parkinson’s disease. The MDL’s main defendants are Switzerland-based Syngenta, which sells paraquat under the brand name Gramoxone, and American oil-giant Chevron, which holds the license for paraquat in the United States. As of November 15, the paraquat MDL included a total of 391 cases.  

The December 3 case management order, issued by Chief US District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel for the Southern District of Illinois, sets forth the procedures and deadlines governing the selection of potential bellwether cases. In multidistrict litigation, bellwether trials are conducted as a way of testing the plaintiffs’ claims in front of a jury, which helps to inform settlement negotiations among the MDL’s other cases.  

Under the order, by December 15, the parties are to select a total of eight potential bellwether cases. Four of these cases will be selected by the plaintiffs, and two cases each will be selected by the two defendants Syngenta and Chevron. These eight cases then will undergo limited discovery, completing limited fact discovery by March 31, 2022, by which date the plaintiffs also must have designated their expert witnesses. Expert depositions must be completed by June 17.    

Under its rules for limited fact discovery, the court permits “not more than three depositions per plaintiff: plaintiff or plaintiff’s family member, one treating or diagnosing physician, and one fact witness regarding exposure.” (Expert depositions are handled separately from depositions of fact witnesses and are not counted against the three permitted fact-witness depositions.)  

Motions—including expert witness motions and motions for summary judgment—are scheduled to be heard during the summer and into the fall of 2022, leading up to the November 15 trial date. Additional bellwethers are scheduled to commence March 13, 2023; June 12, 2023; and September 18, 2023.  

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after regular, long-term exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!    

Sources:  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (3 December 2021). Case Management Order No. 12 Protocol for the Selection of Trial Cases. Case 3:21-md-03004. MDL No. 3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation  

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 November 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District

Paraquat Update: Paraquat MDL Judge Gives Plaintiffs Until Dec 13 to Respond to Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss

November 29, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

Rejecting the plaintiffs’ initial argument that a substantive response to the defendants’ motions to dismiss would involve litigating matters better left to bellwether trials and other proceedings, the judge overseeing multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving the herbicide paraquat has given the plaintiffs’ until December 13 to file a new response that addresses the defendants’ arguments as to why the claims made against them should be tossed out of court.    

However, the judge did agree with the plaintiffs about the defense’s assertion that the paraquat cases should be dismissed for not having been filed within the required time period, denying those arguments without prejudice, which allows the defendants’ to refile such arguments at a later date, pending further factual development.    

The paraquat MDL has centralized hundreds of federal products liability cases filed against the manufacturers, sellers, and distributors of the herbicide paraquat alleging that exposure to the powerful chemical causes Parkinson’s Disease and other serious conditions. As of mid-November, the MDL was approaching 400 cases total.    

In addition to the large numbers of plaintiffs, the paraquat MDL involves a large number of defendants, as well. This results largely from the complex—and sometimes convoluted—history of paraquat ownership, licensing, and manufacturing. Major defendants include Swiss-based Syngenta, which sells paraquat under the brand name GRAMOXONE, and the American oil giant Chevron, which holds the license to sell paraquat in the US.    

For decades, a growing body of medical research has shown that paraquat causes serious damage to human and animal cells, using many of the same dynamics that make paraquat such an effective killer of plant cells, too. In particular, paraquat is known to cause serious damage to nerve cells.    

Despite the large amount of medical data supporting their claims, at this relatively early stage of the MDL, the plaintiffs find themselves fighting just to keep their cases in court.      

As Chief US District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel summarized in a Memorandum and Order filed November 10, “Defendants timely filed motions to dismiss, arguing that many cases in this MDL are partially or full time-barred by statutes of limitations and repose, that the public nuisance claims filed by some Plaintiffs fail to state a claim, and that Plaintiffs’ warranty and consumer protection claims must be dismissed for a variety of reasons specific to state law.”    

The plaintiffs then responded by arguing first that the defendants’ motions to dismiss should be denied because they would, in the words of Chief Judge Rosenstengel, “violate the fundamental purpose of an MDL to ensure pretrial proceedings lead to efficient, just, and expeditious resolution of all actions.” Second, the plaintiffs claimed “that evaluating Defendants’ arguments will require a fact-intensive review of every allegation in every complaint” and “that consideration of these arguments is more appropriate during the bellwether stage.”    

However, the plaintiffs also left themselves with an out, requesting that, if the court should reject these arguments, they be allowed 30 days to respond more fully to the defendants’ substantive arguments. The court did grant this request, giving the plaintiffs until December 13 to file their revised response.      

While many plaintiffs in the paraquat MDL are farmworkers alleging that they were exposed to paraquat through their work, some plaintiffs also have alleged other forms of exposure, including contaminated drinking water and drift.      

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after long-term, repeated exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!    

Sources:    

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (10 November 2021). Memorandum and Order. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. Case No. 3:21-md-3004    

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 November 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribtuion of Pending MDL Dockets by District

Paraquat Update: Some Chevron, Philips 66 Entities Dismissed As Defendants in Paraquat MDL

November 11, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

In multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the herbicide paraquat, the defendants have included a number of corporate entities related to the oil giants Chevron and Phillips 66 who, at one time or another, held some portion of the rights to manufacture, sell, and/or distribute paraquat in the United States. These difficult-to-distinguish entities boast names like Chevron Chemical Company LP and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC.  

However, the list of defendants was thinned considerably by an order issued November 1 in which the district judge presiding over the paraquat MDL approved the dismissal of five such entities, affirming that their paraquat liabilities had been assumed by Chevron U.S.A. Inc.  

By consequence, Chevron U.S.A. will be a defendant in any lawsuit that previously had named one or more of the other entities as defendant.  

Additionally, the court dismissed Chevron U.S.A. as defendant from lawsuits in which the alleged paraquat exposure began after 1990 because Chevron sold its paraquat business in 1986.  

“Chevron Chemical Company (for which Chevron U.S.A. Inc. assumed all liabilities with respect to its paraquat business) stopped distributing paraquat and transferred all paraquat registrations to a non-Chevron entity in 1986,” the November 1 order explained.  

The paraquat MDL has centralized hundreds of federal lawsuits filed by plaintiffs alleging that exposure to paraquat caused them to develop Parkinson’s disease or similar ailment. Over several decades, a vast body of scientific evidence has connected paraquat to nerve damage in humans, including the onset of Parkinson’s.  

The defendants are being sued for “their paraquat business activities, including alleged activities of design, registration, manufacture, formulation, testing, packaging, labeling, distribution, and/or sale of paraquat products in the United States,” as described in the court order.  

The five entities being dismissed as defendants include Chevron Philips Chemical Company LP; Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC; Phillips 66; Philips 66 Company; and Chevron Corporation.  

The fast-growing MDL continues to add cases by the week and included roughly 400 cases at the close of October, court documents show.  

The paraquat MDL’s next status conference is scheduled to take place December 3.  

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after long-term regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!  

Source:  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (1 November 2021). Case Management Order No. 11. Dismissal of CP Chem, Phillips 66, Chevron Corporation, and Cases Against Chevron U.S.A. Inc. Alleging Exposures After 1990. Case No. 3:21-md-03004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL. No. 3004  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (26 October 2021). Coordination Order. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 3004  

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (Accessed 9 November 2021). Docket. Case No. 3:21-md-03004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL. No. 3004

Paraquat Update: Paraquat MDL Plaintiffs Urge Court to Reject Defendants’ Attempts to Have All Cases Tossed

October 19, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

Likening the multitude of legal issues that would be raised to “a hundred-headed-hydra”, plaintiffs in multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s Disease strongly urged the court to reject an effort by defendants Syngenta and Chevron to have all of the MDL’s hundreds of cases tossed out simultaneously.

In an October 13 filing, the plaintiffs blasted the defendants’ tactics, arguing that “Defendants’ Attempt to Dispose of Hundreds of Individual Claims by Means of a ‘Master Motion to Dismiss’ Thwarts the Intention” of previous court orders.

Rather than take on the individual arguments presented by defendants Syngenta and Chevron as to why every single one of the paraquat MDL’s more than 300 cases should be summarily tossed out of court in one fell swoop, plaintiffs instead argue that the issues presented by the defendants are “premature at this stage of the litigation” and that, as a result, the motions “should be summarily denied without prejudice to be reasserted at a later time.”

Among other things, the plaintiffs take issue with what they argue is an attempt by the defendants to portray an unpassable thicket of thorny legal issues contained within their motions as something much simpler.

“While it is true that, on paper, Defendants filed only two…motions to dismiss, in actuality, the motions assert hundreds of arguments attacking each of the claims filed in over one hundred cases implicating choice of law issues involving thirty-six (36) states,” the plaintiffs’ opposition filing asserts. “If Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss are allowed to proceed, this Court and Plaintiffs will be forced to address an endless array of interrelated and unrelated legal issues.”

The plaintiffs go on to cite ten different types of claims brought by various plaintiffs that cannot be resolved by means of “master motions to dismiss” but instead would require adjudication on a case-by-case basis, or, at the least, on the basis of particular subgroups of plaintiffs.

The paraquat MDL centralized federal lawsuits filed against Chevron and Syngenta for manufacturing, selling, and distributing paraquat in the United States, arguing that the health risks of paraquat have been known for years or even decades but that the defendant companies continued to sell the toxic substance without regard for the safety of the communities in paraquat is applied or the workers who apply it.

As of October 15, the paraquat MDL contained 329 active cases, having added nearly 150 cases in just the past two months.

Sources:

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (13 October 2021). Plaintiffs’ Response to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. MDL No. 3004

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 October 2021). MDL Statistics. Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District

Paraquat Update: Farmworker Groups, Environmental Nonprofits, Michael J. Fox Foundation Sue EPA Over Paraquat Re-Approval

October 8, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

In July, despite mounting evidence of the strong connection between the herbicide paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the federal body responsible for ensuring the safety of herbicides and pesticides used in the US—reapproved the usage of the controversial, highly toxic chemical.

In response, an assortment of nonprofit advocacy groups have come together to sue the agency over its decision. The petitioners include nonprofits advocating for the rights of farmworkers (Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc.; Farmworker Justice; Alianza Nacional de Campesinas); environmental groups (Center for Biological Diversity; Toxic Free North Carolina; Pesticide Action Network of North America); and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

“This lawsuit challenges a July 13, 2021 order by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (‘EPA’) registering a pesticide, paraquat dichloride , for continued use,” state the petitioners in an October 1 filing. “Paraquat is a highly toxic herbicide, exposure to which is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease, respiratory distress, and, when ingested, sudden death.”

Paraquat Health Risks

For decades, the devastating effects of paraquat on living cells have been well-documented; in fact, it is precisely this lethality that makes it such an effective herbicide. According to the EPA, just “[o]ne small sip can be fatal and there is no antidote.”

Within the medical community, paraquat’s destructive impact on nerve cells is so well established that scientists use paraquat to induce Parkinson’s-like symptoms in animal subjects for research purposes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other long-term health effects of paraquat exposure include lung damage/scarring, kidney failure, heart failure, and esophageal scarring.

Paraquat Is Banned in Much of the World

As a result of these known risks, a number of countries have banned the use of paraquat outright, making the US an outlier among large agricultural nations for still allowing the deadly chemical to be applied to farmlands, often using such indiscriminate methods as aircraft (crop dusters) and sprayers.

“A pesticide this toxic has no place near our food or the people who help to grow and harvest it,” Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the petitioners, said in 2019. “The EPA should follow the lead of nearly every other major agricultural country in the world and ban this dangerous stuff for good.”

Even as other countries have moved to eliminate paraquat entirely, paraquat use in the US has skyrocketed. For example, while the European Union has banned paraquat use since 2007, paraquat usage in the United States is estimated to have doubled between 2013 and 2017 to over 10 million pounds annually, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

“It only takes a teaspoon of paraquat to kill a person,” said the Center for Biological Diversity’s Donley. “So it’s clear [millions of pounds] of this stuff is doing extreme harm to our health and the environment.”

Rather than ban paraquat use outright as many advocates had demanded, the EPA’s July 2021 interim registration of paraquat instead instituted a number of “enforceable mitigation measures” purportedly intended to limit the public-health risk posed by paraquat. These range from requiring a “residential area drift buffer for all aerial applications” to prohibiting “pressurized handgun and backpack sprayer application methods” to imposing restricted entry intervals (REI) of up to seven days following application of the chemical.

The nonprofit petitioners have called on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, to review the EPA’s decision under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the law that empowered the EPA to regulate herbicides in the US and which requires the EPA to re-evaluate all herbicides registered for use in the US once every 15 years.

Lawsuits Filed by Paraquat Victims

Hundreds of other paraquat lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs alleging that they or a deceased loved one developed Parkinson’s Disease as a result of paraquat exposure. Federal paraquat lawsuits have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Southern District of Illinois.

The MDL contained 289 active cases as of September 15, according to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML).

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!

Sources:

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (1 October 2021). Form 7. Mediation Questionnaire. Case No. 21-71287. California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation et al. v. U.S. EPA

United States Geological Survey (USGS). (Last Modified 18 June 2020). Estimated Annual Agricultural Pesticide Use. Pesticide National Synthesis Project

United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). (Last Updated August 2, 2021). Paraquat Dichloride

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (Last reviewed 4 April 2018). Facts About Paraquat. Emergency Preparedness and Response

Center for Biological Diversity. (15 October 2019). Trump EPA’s Paraquat Review Ignores Sstrong Links to Parkinson’s Disease

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 September 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District >

Paraquat Update: Paraquat Plaintiffs Claim Exposure Due to Herbicide Drift, Tainted Drinking Water

October 1, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

In litigation over allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease, much focus understandably has been placed on agricultural workers whose job it was (and is) to apply the dangerous substance on a regular basis. These workers regularly came into direct contact with paraquat, including getting paraquat directly on their skin, allegedly without any warning about how truly damaging the exposure could be to their long-term health.

However, a review of individual paraquat lawsuits reveals that plaintiffs also blame other, less direct forms of paraquat exposure for their Parkinson’s disease and other health consequences, including damage to the kidneys. These other sources of exposure include so-called “drift” from nearby fields, as well as drinking water tainted with paraquat.

“Plaintiff was regularly exposed to Paraquat as a result of direct exposure, pesticide drift, and contamination of drinking water,” reads a lawsuit filed September 24 on behalf of a deceased individual, adding later, “Plaintiff lived in close proximity to fields where Paraquat products were applied. On information and belief, Plaintiff was also exposed to Paraquat that was applied to these fields due to drift.”

While this particular deceased plaintiff also had been exposed to paraquat at work, where she was responsible for mixing and spraying the herbicide, the fact that her lawsuit includes the additional sources of exposure is both significant and potentially horrifying, raising the question of just what levels, regularity, and duration of paraquat exposure can result in Parkinson’s or other serious side effects.

Given paraquat’s widespread use and the means of application, if it is found that exposure levels from drift or tainted drinking water are sufficient to cause serious health issues such as Parkinson’s, then tragically many thousands more individuals are likely to have been affected. For many, exposure that already has taken place—perhaps unwittingly—might be in the process of triggering health consequences that are yet to reveal themselves.

On top of being applied to millions of acres of agricultural crops annually, paraquat typically is applied using methods that show little concern for the health and safety either of the workers applying the poisonous substance or of the community at large.

“Paraquat products are typically applied with a knapsack sprayer, hand-held sprayer, aircraft (i.e., crop duster), truck with pressurized tank, or tactor-drawn pressurized tank, and such use was as intended, directed, or at least foreseeable,” the lawsuit says.

Such indiscriminate methods of application clearly are intended to apply paraquat over as wide an area as possible with little regard for the wellbeing of the people, animals, and plants surrounding the application zone.

“At all relevant times it was reasonably foreseeable that users and others nearby would be exposed to Paraquat through contact with skin, breathing it in, and/or ingesting it,” the lawsuit asserts.

A Failure to Warn

Worse yet, plaintiffs accuse defendant Syngenta of both under-investigating the safety of paraquat and failing to issue proper warnings regarding its known dangers. In fact, plaintiffs allege that even as a growing body of scientific evidence warned of serious consequences to human health, defendant Syngenta engaged in a vigorous public-relations campaign aimed at spreading misinformation about the dangers of paraquat.

“In response to growing concerns about the safety of Paraquat, Syngenta established a website at www.paraquat.com for the purpose of persuading the public that Paraquat is safe,” the lawsuit alleges. “Syngenta’s statements proclaiming the safety of Paraquat and disregarding its dangers were designed to mislead the agricultural community and the public at large, including Plaintiff.”

Even as Syngenta was busy distorting the scientific literature on paraquat’s potential risks—including by creating and maintaining the now-defunct paraquat website—plaintiffs claim “[d]efendants knew or should have known that Paraquat was a highly toxic substance that can cause severe neurological injuries and impairment.”

Further, “[d]efendants failed to appropriately and adequately test its Paraquat-based products to protect individuals like Plaintiff from the hazards of exposure to Paraquat.”

As a result, “Plaintiff, CAROL MAE JEANSONNE, deceased, contracted Parkinson’s Disease, was severely and permanently injured, and died as a result of the exposure to Paraquat,” the lawsuit filed on behalf of Jeansonne’s estate alleges.

An Ongoing Risk

Despite the robust and ever-growing body of scientific evidence outlining the devastating impact paraquat and paraquat derivatives have on human health, and despite the herbicide having been banned in many countries due to its health risks, paraquat somehow remains legal to use in the United States. This means that every day untold numbers of agricultural workers and members of agricultural communities continue to be exposed to this toxic substance, with the most severe consequences of their exposure perhaps not revealing themselves for years or decades to come.

Thus, perhaps the greatest tragedy of all in the paraquat saga is not the damage done but that—despite all of the information available—the harm continues to this day.

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease following long-term, regular exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!

Sources:

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (24 September 2021). Complaint. Case 3:21-pq-01178-NJR. Lacombe v. Syngenta

Paraquat Update: As MDL Cases Grow 60% in One Month, Paraquat-Maker Syngenta Urges Court to Dismiss Some Claims

September 27, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

Defendant Syngenta—the Switzerland-based corporation behind the herbicide paraquat—has urged the court to dismiss certain claims against it in multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease.

However, Syngenta importantly has not asked that all claims against it be dismissed, meaning that, even if the court were to grant Syngenta’s request in full—an outcome which itself is far from a certainty—some claims against the embattled corporation will inevitably survive.

Meanwhile, the number of cases in the paraquat MDL continues to skyrocket. As of September 15, the paraquat MDL included 289 active cases, an increase of more than 100 cases—or 60%—since mid-August.

In a motion filed September 13, Syngenta argued that three classes of claims against it should be dismissed: (1) claims brought under the laws of certain states; (2) claims for breach of warranty; (3) claims for violations of state consumer protection laws.

Even if the court agrees that all such claims should be tossed, Syngenta still would find itself facing numerous counts from hundreds if not thousands of plaintiffs. For example, one paraquat lawsuit filed September 24 contains a total of seven counts, only one of which (breach of implied warranty of merchantability) potentially would be affected by the court’s granting Syngenta’s partial motion to dismiss.

The paraquat MDL has centralized hundreds of federal lawsuits alleging that paraquat gave the plaintiff—or, tragically, a deceased individual represented by the plaintiff—Parkinson’s disease. The use of paraquat as an herbicide first was discovered in 1955 by Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). Later—in the words of the September 24 lawsuit—“[t]hrough a long series of mergers, spin-offs, and related corporate transactions” Syngenta-controlled entities came to own ICI’s agrochemical business, including paraquat, often sold under the brand name GRAMOXONE.

According to the lawsuit, since 1986, Syngenta and its affiliated entities have manufactured, formulated, and distributed paraquat in the United States as both an active ingredient and as a final product.

Also named as a defendant in the paraquat MDL is Chevron Chemical Company, which, in the 1960s, entered into a licensing and distribution agreement with ICI that allowed the Big-Oil-affiliated company to sell paraquat in the US.

Tragically, the risks of paraquat use to human health have been recognized for decades, with the same chemical qualities that make paraquat an effective herbicide also wreaking havoc on human nerve cells.

“The same oxidation and redux potentials that make Paraquat highly toxic to plant cells and other types of animal cells make Paraquat highly toxic to nerve cells, including dopaminergic neurons, and create a substantial risk to all persons exposed to Paraquat,” the September 24 lawsuit states.

Paraquat’s devastating impact on nerve cells is so well recognized that researchers studying Parkinson’s disease using animal subjects use paraquat to induce Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

“Paraquat is one of only a handful of toxins that scientists use to produce animal models of Parkinson’s disease,” the lawsuit reports.

Despite the MDL only having been established in June 2021, the proceedings are moving ahead at a break-neck pace for such litigation, with the court recognizing the devastating and fast-acting nature of Parkinson’s disease and the need to act quickly in the hopes of delivering justice for plaintiffs while they are still alive.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!

Sources:

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (13 September 2021). Syngenta’s Consolidated Partial Motion to Dismiss. Case 3:21-md-03004-NJR. MDL 3004. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court Southern District of Ilinois. (24 September 2021). Complaint. Case 3:21-pq-01178-NJR. Lacombe v. Syngenta

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 September 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (13 August 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District

Paraquat Update: Paraquat MDL Judge Approves Plaintiff Questionnaire, Fact Sheet

September 7, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

In an important step forward for still-growing federal litigation over the links between the herbicide paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease, the presiding judge formally approved on September 3 both the plaintiff questionnaire and the plaintiff fact sheet .

These documents, along with the plaintiffs’ master complaint, will allow the hundreds if not thousands of expected plaintiffs to file their claims in a uniform way, allowing for the more efficient processing of the large number of anticipated lawsuits.

As of August 13, 181 active cases had joined federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the herbicide paraquat with many more expected to come.

Given the devastating and fast-moving nature of Parkinson’s Disease, Chief US District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel appears intent on keeping the paraquat MDL on an expedited track, already having scheduled the first bellwether trial for November 2022.

With her approval of the plaintiff’s assessment questionnaire and plaintiff’s fact sheet, Chief Judge Rosenstengel has taken a big step toward the efficient filing and handling of claims. Additionally, the September 3 case management order instructed the court-appointed special master to establish deadlines and guidelines related to the plaintiff questionnaire and fact sheet.

The 13-page plaintiff’s assessment questionnaire requires a variety of information, from more generic items such as residential history and employment history to highly detailed inquiries about the nature of the plaintiff’s paraquat exposure.

Specifically, for each time the plaintiff was exposed to paraquat, the questionnaire asks for the plaintiff’s job title at the time of the exposure as well as the approximate months and years that the exposure took place. Further, the questionnaire asks for each exposure questions such as the method of application, the number of acres to which paraquat was applied, the location of application, the individual or entity that sold or supplied the paraquat, and more.

The questionnaire describes an instance of paraquat exposure as having “handled, mixed, applied, assisted in application, sprayed or otherwise came into contact with” the substance while working.

For its part, the 37-page plaintiff’s fact sheet seeks similar information but oftentimes in even greater detail, delving deeper into both the plaintiff’s medical history as well as that of the plaintiff’s family. Similar to the questionnaire, the fact sheet also asks for specifics on each paraquat exposure, including the type of protective equipment, if any, used by the plaintiff during each exposure.

There unfortunately is a long history of a link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s Disease, and paraquat use has been banned in a number of different countries due to the health risks. These countries include Switzerland, home of paraquat-maker Syngenta.

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after having been exposed to the herbicide paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com now for a free legal consultation!

Sources:

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (13 August 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (3 September 2021). Case Management Order No. 7. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. MDL No. 3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (3 September 2021). Exhibit 1 Plaintiff’s Assessment Questionnaire (PAQ). (PA. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. MDL No. 3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (3 September 2021). Exhibit 2 Plaintiff’s Fact Sheet. Case No. 3:21-md-3004. MDL No. 3004. In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation

Paraquat Update: Paraquat MDL Adds Dozens of New Cases As Court Races Toward First Bellwether

August 9, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

In some multidistrict litigation (MDL), it can take half a decade or more before the first bellwether trials are held. This can be due to the complexity of the factual and/or legal issues involved, the large number of cases, defendant delay tactics, or any combination of the above.

However, in the instance of newly established multidistrict litigation over allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s Disease, Chief US District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel appears to be intent on making an exception. Despite the paraquat MDL having been established in June 2021, Judge Rosenstengel early on established an aggressive date of November 2022 for the first bellwether trial.

Even as the number of cases in the MDL continues to skyrocket, the court has been pushing the parties to meet its ambitious deadline.

The paraquat MDL centralized federal lawsuits over allegations that long-term, repeated exposure to the common herbicide causes Parkinson’s Disease. Although the MDL is relatively new, unfortunately, scientific evidence that paraquat poses a serious health risk is not. Research dating back as far as the early 1990s has demonstrated a strong correlation between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s Disease in humans, as well as Parkinson’s-like symptoms in animals.

One lawsuit originally filed in the Eastern District of New Jersey in April 2021 (and which is now part of the paraquat MDL in the Southern District of Illinois) cited scientific evidence suggesting that certain individuals may be genetically predisposed to getting Parkinson’s from paraquat. For example, a 2012 study found that those possessing a certain genotype “were 11.1 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease” when exposed to paraquat.

Since 1962, paraquat has been sold by the Swiss company Syngenta under the brand name Gramoxone. Despite its still being widely used in the United States, its use has been banned in a number of other countries due to the health risks, including Switzerland, where its use has been forbidden since 1989. In 2020, the People’s Republic of China banned paraquat use in that country, classifying the substance as “extremely toxic,” according to the April 2021 lawsuit.

Sadly, given that each case represents an avoidable tragedy, the number of cases in the paraquat MDL has been increasingly rapidly and is expected to grow further still. From mid-June to mid-July, the number of active cases grew six-fold from 29 to 173, with dozens more cases having been added since that time, according to court documents and data released by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML).

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after repeated exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!

Sources:

United States District Court Eastern District of Missouri Northern Division. (14 April 2021). Complaint. Case No. 2:21-cv-00031-MTS. J. Patrick Hays v. Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, et al

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 July 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by Actions Pending

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 June 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District. MDL Statistics Report

Paraquat Update: Paraquat MDL Off to a Fast Start; First Trial Scheduled for November 2022

July 20, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

Newly created multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that the popular herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s Disease is off to a fast start, with the first trial already having been scheduled for November 2022, court documents show.

The court also has already appointed a special master tasked with establishing pretrial deadlines in keeping with the ambitious trial date.

Additionally, in the month from mid-June to mid-July, the number of cases in the paraquat MDL grew more than six-fold, from 29 on June 15 to 173 as of July 15, according to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML).

Tragically, that figure is expected to grow into the many hundreds or even the thousands given the long-time, widespread use of paraquat in the United States, and it does not include paraquat lawsuits filed in state court.

Given the fast-acting and devastating nature of Parkinson’s Disease, the court appears to be moving with a sense of urgency aimed at allowing plaintiffs their greatest chance of receiving justice in their lifetimes. By way of comparison, some MDLs go a number of years before their first bellwether trials are held. The paraquat MDL was established in early June, making it extremely young in the normal lifespan of such complex litigation.

Despite having been banned in a number of other countries due to concerns over health risks, paraquat continues to be both legal and widely used in the United States. Plaintiffs in the MDL claim based on scientific evidence that long-term, repeated exposure to paraquat causes Parkinson’s Disease. Paraquat often is sold under the brand name Gramoxone.

Defendants in the paraquat MDL include Switzerland-based Syngenta, maker of Gramoxone, as well as American oil giants Chevron and Philips 66, whose chemical divisions manufactured and sold Gramoxone, as well.

In a sign that the court is serious about meeting its ambitious deadline of commencing the first bellwether trial on November 15, 2022, the court appointed on July 14 a special master who immediately was directed to meet and confer with the parties in an effort to establish a pretrial discovery schedule, as well as to handle a number of other essential administrative matters.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after years of regular exposure to Gramoxone or another form of paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a legal consultation!

Sources:

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (Accessed 16 July 2021). Docket. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. Case No. 3:21-md-3004-NJR. MDL No. 3004

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (10 June 2021). Case Management Order No. 1. Case No. 3:21-md-3004-NJR. MDL No. 3004. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 July 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by Actions Pending

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 June 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District. MDL Statistics Report

United States District Court Southern District of Illinois. (14 July 2021). Case Management Order No. 4. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. Case No. 3:21-md-3004-NJR. MDL No. 3004

Paraquat Update: Judicial Panel Okays Creation of Paraquat MDL

June 17, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

Federal products liability lawsuits alleging that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease will be centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Southern District of Illinois, the judicial body responsible for overseeing MDLs in the United States ordered in a highly anticipated decision issued June 7.

“Since 1964, paraquat has been used in the United States to kill broadleaf weeds and grasses before the planting or emergence of various crops, to control weeds in orchards, and to desiccate plants before harvest,” the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) wrote in its transfer order. “The actions here involve common factual issues concerning the propensity of paraquat to cause Parkinson’s Disease. This litigation likely will implicate complex scientific and regulatory issues. Centralization will eliminate duplicative discover; avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.”

The newly formed paraquat MDL, which has been assigned to United States District Court Chief Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel, included 29 cases as of June 15, according to figures released by the JPML.

However, given the popularity of paraquat in the United States and the length of time that paraquat has been available on the US market, that figure is expected to grow dramatically over the coming months and years.

Scientific knowledge about the potentially serious health risks posed by paraquat is hardly knew, with evidence dating back decades. In fact, the United States is relatively rare among countries in still allowing the use of paraquat. For example, the European Union, Switzerland, and China all have banned the use of paraquat for years. (Switzerland is particularly of note as Syngenta, the maker of paraquat, is headquartered in that country.)

A bill to ban the use of paraquat in the US was introduced in the House of Representatives in 2019 but failed even to get a floor vote.

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after repeated exposure to paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation!

Sources:

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (7 June 2021). Transfer Order. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 3004

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 June 2021). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District. MDL Statistics Report

Paraquat Update: Panel Hears Arguments on Potential Paraquat MDL

May 26, 2021
Author: Daniel Gala

On May 27, a judicial panel is scheduled to hear oral arguments over the creation of multidistrict litigation (MDL) that would centralize federal lawsuits filed by plaintiffs alleging that the pesticide Paraquat gave them Parkinson's disease, court document show.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will consider a motion filed by plaintiff Paul Rakoczy requesting that 14 Paraquat cases across six different districts be transferred to the Northern District of California as part of a new MDL.

The cases herald from districts across the United States, including the Southern District of Illinois, the Eastern District of Missouri, the Northern and Southern Districts of West Virginia, and the Western District of Wisconsin, in addition to the Northern District of California.

The lawsuits are based on a decades-old but still-growing body of evidence indicating that repeated exposure to Paraquat can cause the devastating neurodegenerative condition known as Parkinson's disease. While only 14 cases are listed in the JPML's Notice of Hearing, numerous other state and federal Paraquat cases already have been filed in the US, with many more expected to follow.

The health risks of Paraquat have long been known to science, and a number of countries and regional organizations—including Switzerland, China, and the European Union—already have banned its use. In 2019, a bill to ban Paraquat in the United States was introduced in the US House of Representatives, but it died before even getting a floor vote.

"[P]araquat shall be deemed to generally cause unreasonable adverse effects to humans in part due to its acute systemic toxicity and for being a known neurotoxin which causes Parkinson's disease," read the unpassed bill, HR 3817.

Regardless of whether or not the JPML grants the plaintiff's motion to establish a Paraquat MDL, the number of Paraquat-related lawsuits in the United States is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years as more evidence comes to light and, tragically, more individuals exposed to Paraquat develop Parkinson's disease.

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after being repeatedly exposed to Paraquat, contact TheLawFirm.com now for a free legal consultation!

Sources:

Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (15 April 2021). Notice of Hearing Session. In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 3004

United States House of Representatives. (17 July 2019). H.R. 3817 To cancel the registration of all uses of the pesticide paraquat, and for other purposes. 116th Congress. 1st Session

Paraquat Update

February 12, 2021
Author: Ben Adams

A new study in mice has revealed that when inhaled, the pesticide paraquat can enter the brain. The researchers also found that, in male mice only, paraquat exposure impaired sense of smell, an early sign of Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Interestingly, Parkinson's is 1.5x more likely to present in men than women.

This study is important because inhalation represents the most realistic route of pesticide exposure for farmers but is often overlooked in basic animal research and risk assessments.

Paraquat was detected in four regions of the brain as well the lungs and kidney. Levels in the olfactory bulb were substantially higher than in any other brain region, consistent with inhalation exposure through the olfactory system. Even though paraquat levels in all tissues returned to control values within four weeks of the end of exposure exposed male mice had a persistent impaired sense of smell compared to controls. Exposure did not affect sense of smell in female mice.

This means that farmers, pesticide applicators, tank fillers/mixers, and the families living in and around farming communities are at increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

A 2011 study by the National Institute of Health the found that people exposed to Paraquat are approximately 2.5 times, or 250%, more likely to develop Parkinson's Disease. Parkinson's is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often in the form of tremors, stiffness, or loss of balance. Although certain medications can control the symptoms of Parkinson's, there is no cure.

Scientists now believe that environmental exposures like herbicides and pesticides are the leading cause of Parkinson's. In fact, in animal studies, Paraquat is used to induce Parkinson's disease so that scientists can study the disease.

What this means is that Paraquat is used by scientists to purposely give Parkinson’s disease to animals but farmers are still allowed to spray this pesticide! Unfortunately, the link between Paraquat and Parkinson's disease is still widely unknown to farmers and the public. Many farmers may be using the herbicide spray and putting their entire communities at risk simply because the dangers are not known by them.

Sources:

Niehs

Pubmed

Legal Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to be used as medical information or diagnosis. The sources of the information presented in the article have been researched and are linked within the article. Please seek out medical advice from a licensed medical professional if you are experiencing a problem with any of the drugs or devices mentioned in this article. 

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