The makers of Paraquat, a controversial weed killer that has been widely used by farmers and agricultural workers across the United States since the 1960s, face a new product liability lawsuit filed by a Tennessee farmer, who claims that warnings about the potential for Paraquat to cause Parkinson’s disease were withheld from commercial users. This new Paraquat lawsuit, filed late last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, by a farmer named Michael Gearrin, alleges that Syngenta and Chevron knew or should have known that Paraquat was highly toxic and capable of causing permanent neurological damage and should have taken steps to ensure that users would not be harmed by the weed killer. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease allegedly caused by exposure to Paraquat, contact Consumer Safety Watch today to find out if you may be eligible for compensation through a Paraquat lawsuit.
Paraquat is a powerful chemical commonly used as an herbicide in commercial agriculture. It was developed in the 1960s as a means of controlling weeds and grasses on farms and is still sold in the U.S. under a variety of brand names, including Devour, Blanco, Firestorm, and Gramoxone. Paraquat has been banned in dozens of countries due to its toxic side effects, specifically its link to Parkinson’s disease and the risk of fatality from ingesting even a single drop of the weed killer. However, while Paraquat use has been restricted in the U.S., the weed killer was never banned, and it remains available for sale to licensed commercial applicators. In fact, Paraquat is often marketed as an alternative to Roundup, another popular herbicide that has been connected to a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma risk in users.
Despite increasing concerns about the safety of Paraquat and its link to Parkinson’s disease, the EPA in 2020 stated that “there is insufficient evidence to link registered paraquat products to any of the health outcomes investigated, including Parkinson’s Disease, when used according to the label.” There are a growing number of farmers and agricultural workers who would disagree with this contentious finding, however. There are currently more than 500 Paraquat lawsuits pending in a multidistrict litigation in Illinois, each making similar assertions that the makers of Paraquat failed to properly warn commercial applicators that Paraquat could increase their risk of Parkinson’s disease, even when used as intended.
In his lawsuit, Michael Gearrin alleges that the makers of Paraquat withheld for decades information about the possibility of the weed killer causing permanent neurological damage in users, even when the manufacturers’ recommended safety precautions are followed. Gearrin was “repeatedly exposed to and inhaled, ingested, or absorbed Paraquat” while mixing and spraying the weed killer on his own farmland in Dade County, Georgia over the course of approximately six years, from 1978 to 1983. As a direct result of his exposure to Paraquat, the lawsuit states, Gearrin began experiencing symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease in 1987 and was diagnosed with the neurological disorder in January 2021. Prior to his diagnosis, Gearrin was never warned that exposure to Paraquat could cause Parkinson’s disease, nor had he any knowledge that safety precautions were necessary to prevent neurological injury or other side effects associated with his Paraquat use.
“Many epidemiological studies have found an association between Paraquat exposure and PD, including multiple studies finding a two- to- five-fold or greater increase in the risk of PD in populations with occupational exposure to Paraquat compared to populations without such exposure,” Gearrin’s Paraquat lawsuit states. “Defendants had knowledge of these studies and the relationship between Paraquat and PD but actively and fraudulently concealed this information from Plaintiff and others.”
Gearrin’s Parkinson’s disease claims are echoed in hundreds of other Paraquat lawsuits pending against Syngenta, Chevron, and other Paraquat manufacturers. If you were exposed to Paraquat during mixing, loading, or spraying, and you have since been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may have grounds to file a Paraquat lawsuit against the Paraquat manufacturers. To learn more about the ongoing Paraquat litigation, contact Consumer Safety Watch today.