Toxic Exposure

Paraquat Lawsuit

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Paraquat is a toxic chemical used as an herbicide. It is banned in many countries worldwide for its serious health impacts. Paraquat has been reported to cause Parkinson’s disease and neurological issues. Thousands of U.S. citizens have filed paraquat lawsuits against the manufacturers Syngenta and Chevron and some distributors. Find out if you are eligible for a paraquat lawsuit, too.

What is paraquat? 

Paraquat dichloride is a toxic chemical used as an herbicide. Paraquat was first released in the U.S. in 1964 and has been used for decades to control weeds and invasive grasses. Farmers use it on many crops, including corn, soybeans, cotton and vineyard grapes. It is the key ingredient in many spray herbicides, including Gramoxone, Firestorm, Helmquat and Parazone.

Paraquat, is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a restricted use product. It is not available to the general public. This means that it is legally only available to people who have undergone specialized training in applying the poison and maintain an applicator license. 

Dozens of countries have banned paraquat, including all of the European Union and China. It is not banned in the U.S.

Proposed EPA safety measures for paraquat

In October 2020, the EPA proposed new safety measures to “reduce risks associated with paraquat in order to better protect human health and the environment.” An interim decision was released in July 2021. Measures outlined by the EPA include, but are not limited to:

  • Limiting aerial application acreage for all uses and use sites, except cotton desiccation.
  • Requiring enclosed cabs on sprayer vehicles if area treated in 24-hour period exceeds 80 acres. Areas less than 80 acres should be treated from an enclosed cab or with users wearing PF10 respirators.
  • Requiring a residential area drift buffer.
  • Prohibiting certain applicators, including pressurized handguns and backpack sprayers.

People most at risk for paraquat exposure include agricultural workers, their families and people who live near farms.

Health effects related to paraquat

Paraquat exposure can lead to extremely serious health effects. The herbicide is linked to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. It can also be dangerous if ingested or inhaled or if it contacts the skin.

  • Long-term health effects: Long-term exposure to paraquat is linked to the development of Parkinson’s Disease and related neurological issues.
  • Immediate signs of paraquat ingestion: Pain and swelling in mouth and throat, followed by gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, pain and diarrhea. 
  • Health effects from ingesting small to medium amounts of paraquat: Development (within several days to several weeks) of heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure or lung scarring.
  • Health effects from ingesting large amounts of paraquat: Development (within a few hours to few days) of severe health effects, possibly leading to seizures or even death, the EPA notes.

Paraquat’s high toxicity can cause life-threatening side effects. Paraquat induces oxidative stress which can lead to a host of health problems. Oxidative stress changes the structure and function of important parts of cells. This leads to serious cell damage.

Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease 

Some studies have found strong associations between paraquat use and Parkinson’s disease. This means use of paraquat may cause an increased risk of Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is an irreversible neurological disorder. Symptoms typically become worse over time.

Common Parkinson’s disease symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Difficulty with swallowing, chewing and speaking
  • Emotional changes
  • Impaired balance and coordination (may lead to falls and other injuries)
  • Muscle stiffness and prolonged contraction
  • Skin problems
  • Slow movement
  • Tremors (commonly in hands, arms, legs, jaw or head)
  • Urinary problems or constipation

If you or a loved one experience these symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately.

A paraquat lawyer can then help explain your paraquat claim options. The options may include filing a personal injury lawsuit of your own. Product liability lawsuits can hold the manufacturers of paraquat accountable. Although there is never a guarantee, lawsuits may result in a settlement or verdict award.

Why are people filing paraquat lawsuits?

People who have developed Parkinson’s Disease are filing lawsuits against paraquat manufacturers Syngenta and Chevron, and distributors including, but not limited to FMC Corporation. These lawsuits seek compensation for the victims’ injuries.

Some of the paraquat lawsuits also include claims from victims’ spouses. These lawsuits claim Loss of Consortium. This is a legal term describing the losses a family or spouse may experience because of injuries to the victim. 

There are pending state court cases in California, Delaware, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania and Washington as well as on the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) docket.

Contact a paraquat attorney

If you or someone you love was directly exposed to paraquat and later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may have a claim. For more information on filing a paraquat lawsuit, reach toxic exposure attorney Fidelma Fitzpatrick by email or call 1.800.768.4026.

Paraquat state litigation

There are hundreds of individual paraquat lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania state court, specifically in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The Court has issued an order, setting the first trial in April 2025. Motley Rice attorney Fidelma Fitzpatrick is co-lead counsel and a member of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for the Pennsylvania mass tort. Daniel Lapinski is Liaison Counsel for the Pennsylvania Mass Tort.

In addition, there are a group of cases filed in Delaware state court and motion practice is underway.

Paraquat federal multidistrict litigation

There is one multidistrict litigation (MDL) docket. It is located in the Southern District of Illinois Court System. An MDL docket allows lawsuits with similar details and defendants to be decided by the same court. MDLs can help expedite the legal process. The paraquat MDL, called In Re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation (MDL-3004), was established in 2021. As of October 2023, there are 4,782 actions pending and 5,177 total actions in the docket. These lawsuits represent thousands of paraquat victims. 

These trials are known as bellwether trials. They are a U.S. legal practice used to “test” common facts at the beginning of legal proceedings. 

Paraquat settlements

Most paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuits are still in early stages. However, Syngenta’s financial records show some payouts have already happened. The company’s 2022 Financial Report shows a $187.5 million settlement in 2021. Syngenta is no stranger to large settlements and paid $1.5 billion to settle claims related to its pesticide Viptera in 2018 and 2019.

The $187.5 million paraquat settlement included multiple claimants, according to company records. Motley Rice was not involved in this settlement or the Viptera settlements.

If you or a loved one were harmed by paraquat, you may also be eligible to file a lawsuit. A successful paraquat lawsuit can help pay for medical care costs, provide financial peace of mind and hold Syngenta accountable. Speak with paraquat attorneys at our law firm to find out if you are eligible.

Our toxic exposure litigation experience

Our attorneys have extensive experience litigating toxic exposure and environmental damage cases for individuals, families, communities, and states. Through our cases we seek justice for our clients and to improve environmental standards and protections. 

An example of our experience includes representing people who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after being exposed to Roundup weed killer. The firm also obtained a landmark settlement for 10 cities and counties in California that alleged three lead pigment companies created a public nuisance by exposing residents to toxic lead paint. 

Read more on our toxic exposure experience.

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