A new product liability lawsuit filed in federal court in Illinois alleges that years of regular exposure to the controversial herbicide Paraquat caused a Mississippi man to develop Parkinson’s disease. The case, brought by plaintiff Neil McCord, a certified Paraquat applicator in Mississippi between 1970 and 1983, joins a growing number of lawsuits brought against Syngenta, Chevron, and other Paraquat manufacturers, blaming the weed killer for Parkinson’s disease and other serious health problems in U.S. farmers and agricultural workers. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to Paraquat during mixing, loading, or application, you may be eligible to join the Paraquat multidistrict litigation. Contact Consumer Safety Watch as soon as possible to learn more about the link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease and to find out whether you are eligible to file a claim for compensation.
Paraquat is a toxic and highly controversial weed killer developed by Syngenta AG and sold in the United States by Chevron Corp. under various trade names, including Firestorm, Helmquat, Gramoxone, and Parazone. As an herbicide, Paraquat (paraquat dichloride) is used primarily for weed and grass control in commercial agricultural operations. The weed killer has been used in the U.S. since the 1960s, but it is banned in more than 30 other countries because of its link to fatal poisonings and other serious health problems, like Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that causes tremors, stiffness, and problems with balance and coordination. Paraquat is still sold in the U.S., but its use is restricted to licensed commercial applicators, many of whom have no idea that the herbicide could put them at risk for Parkinson’s disease or other adverse health outcomes.
Many people think of Parkinson’s disease as an inherited condition, and it can be. However, genetics are only responsible for about 10% to 15% Parkinson’s cases, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Most experts agree that environmental factors also play a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease, one of the most likely being exposure to pesticides and herbicides like Paraquat. Research has shown that Paraquat exposure can cause cell damage and death through a process called oxidative stress, which can lead to Parkinson’s disease if the dopamine neuron cells in the brain are affected. Dopamine works with other neurotransmitters to send messages to the part of the brain that controls coordination and movement, and when the nerve cells in the brain die or become impaired and lose their ability to produce dopamine, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may occur.
Research on Parkinson’s disease and its potential causes has intensified in recent years, providing compelling evidence of an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease in farmers and agricultural workers who work directly with Paraquat, and even in people who live near areas where Paraquat is sprayed. In light of these findings, health experts and consumer advocates have called on federal health officials in the U.S. to join the dozens of other countries that have banned the use of Paraquat. Sadly, the EPA in 2020 re-approved Paraquat for use in the U.S., ignoring two letters signed by the Parkinson’s Foundation and the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council encouraging the agency to cancel the registration of Paraquat based on evidence linking the weed killer to Parkinson’s disease. That means, unless additional steps are taken to ban the herbicide, Paraquat will remain available for sale in the U.S. for at least another 15 years.
Over the past year, hundreds of lawsuits like McCord’s have been brought against Syngenta and Chevron by farmers, agricultural workers, and others who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. And new claims are filed almost every day, as more and more licensed Paraquat applicators discover the potential link between their Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s diagnosis. Paraquat lawsuits filed in the federal court system have been consolidated in the Southern District of Illinois as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL), and the makers of Paraquat could face billions of dollars in claims when all is said and done. There may eventually be tens of thousands of Paraquat injury cases, and plaintiffs in the litigation could be entitled to significant Paraquat settlements. In June 2021, Syngenta agreed to pay $187.5 million to resolve an undisclosed number of Paraquat cases, “solely for the purpose of bringing to an end these claims.” To learn whether you may be entitled to compensation for alleged Paraquat-related injuries, contact Consumer Safety Watch today.