Two new plaintiffs recently filed Paraquat lawsuits against the makers of the herbicide, including Syngenta AG and Chevron U.S.A., Inc. Both claim that after being exposed to paraquat, they were diagnosed with serious illnesses.
Plaintiff Blames Paraquat for Diagnosis of Kidney Disease
The first plaintiff is from Illinois and filed his case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. According to his complaint, he was regularly exposed to paraquat for about 11 years—between 1964 and 1974.
On the farmlands where he worked in Williamson County, he regularly mixed paraquat, filled tanks with the herbicide, and applied it to the crops. On numerous occasions, he came into contact with it on his skin. He also lived near the fields where paraquat products were applied and believes he was exposed due to drift.
All the time that he was working with paraquat, the plaintiff was unaware that exposure—when handled according to the instructions—could cause serious injuries.
He subsequently began experiencing symptoms of kidney disease and was officially diagnosed with kidney disease in 2021. He currently has one non-functioning kidney and the other is functioning only at 34 percent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that after paraquat enters the body, it is distributed to all areas where it can cause toxic chemical reactions to occur. These reactions are most damaging in the lungs, liver, and kidneys. The CDC also notes that ingestion of small to medium amounts of paraquat may lead to kidney failure.
Plaintiff Didn’t Know Until Recently that Paraquat Was Linked with Parkinson’s
The second plaintiff is from Missouri and filed his paraquat lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. He states that beginning in 1975, he was repeatedly exposed to and inhaled, ingested, or absorbed paraquat in the course of applying it as an herbicide.
When he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he did not connect it to his past paraquat exposure. No doctor or other person had ever suggested that the two could be linked. It wasn’t until shortly before he filed this lawsuit that he heard about the studies suggesting that long-term exposure to paraquat may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
PD is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder of the brain that affects movement. Scientists agree that fewer than 10 percent of all cases are caused by genetic mutations alone and that more than 90 percent occur because of a combination of genetic susceptibility, environmental factors, and aging.
Paraquat, because of its inherent toxicity, is one of only a handful of toxins that scientists use to produce animal models of PD. Studies examining the herbicide have discovered that it creates oxidative stress that results in the degeneration and death of neurons in the brain that produce dopamine—the same type of brain damage seen in patients with PD.
Epidemiological studies have also shown a connection. In 2019, researchers conducted a systematic review of the literature and found that PD occurrence was 25 percent higher in participants exposed to paraquat. Results from a subgroup analysis also indicated a higher PD frequency in those who were exposed to the herbicide for longer periods.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will soon hear arguments on the potential consolidation of all federally filed paraquat lawsuits. A motion was filed to consolidate in April, and the defendants agreed a few weeks later, though the parties disagree on the most appropriate venue for the combined litigation.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs—especially in mass tort litigation—Roopal Luhana prides herself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of her clients and their families. While she handles complex cases nationwide on behalf of consumers, Ms. Luhana resides with her family in Brooklyn, New York.