Table Of Contents
- Update: Syngenta Internal Docs Reveal Tactics to Mislead Regulators re. Paraquat Health Risks
- What is the Herbicide Paraquat?
- How Does it Work?
- What’s the Problem with Paraquat Exposure?
- Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease Timeline
- Paraquat Poisoning
- How Could I Develop Parkinson’s Disease After Being Exposed?
- What Happens After Absorption?
- Symptoms of Paraquat Exposure
- How To Test For Paraquat Exposure
- Is Paraquat Banned in the United States?
- Does Paraquat Contain Roundup?
- The “Paraquat Papers”
- EPA Sued Over Clearance of Endocrine-Disrupting Pesticide
- What is Parkinson’s Disease?
- How Do I Prove I Was Exposed to Paraquat?
- How Do I Prove That Paraquat Caused My Parkinson’s Disease?
- Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuit Updates August 2022
- More Paraquat News Updates
- Why Should I File a Paraquat Lawsuit?
- What Compensation Could I Be Awarded?
- Settlements in Similar Cases
- Is There a Statute of Limitations on Paraquat Lawsuits?
- Get a Free Paraquat Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
Update: Syngenta Internal Docs Reveal Tactics to Mislead Regulators re. Paraquat Health Risks
According to The Guardian, internal corporate documents from Syngenta have revealed that the global chemical giant has sought to secretly influence scientific research regarding links between its Paraquat weedkiller and Parkinson’s disease .
While numerous studies have concluded that paraquat can cause neurological changes that lead to Parkinson’s, Syngenta has always maintained that the evidence linking paraquat to the disease is “fragmentary” and “inconclusive.” However, the “evidence” Syngenta uses to justify this position is the same that the company has worked for decades to create and even manipulate, according to newly-reviewed internal files.
Among other things, the files found that Syngenta:
- Hired a prominent British scientist to write scientific literature which hid its association with the company
- Misled regulators about the existence of unfavorable research conducted by its scientists
- Prompted lawyers to review and suggest edits for scientific reports in ways that downplayed problematic findings about Paraquat’s link to Parkinson’s
- Created a “Swat team” to be ready to respond to new studies that could interfere with Syngenta’s “freedom to sell” paraquat.
The main goal of these activities was to “create an international scientific consensus against the hypothesis that paraquat is a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease,” according to the documents.
What is the Herbicide Paraquat?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified paraquat dichloride as a “restricted-use pesticide,” which means a chemical agent that is not allowed to be used recreationally .
The toxic herbicide can only be used commercially by licensed applicators.
Paraquat is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, which prevents the growth of weeds and grass near crops on large and small commercial farms, estates, plantations, and orchards.
How Does it Work?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study from 2018, Paraquat works by inhibiting photosynthesis .
In light-exposed plants, it accepts electrons from photosystem I and transfers them to molecular oxygen. In this manner, destructive reactive oxygen species are produced.
The formation of reactive oxygen species destroys the plant organelles and causes cell death.
What’s the Problem with Paraquat Exposure?
Paraquat is a restricted-use toxic herbicide, which means that only licensed, trained applicators can use it, and it’s not licensed for home use.
As specified in the National Institute of Health study, people affected by exposure have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in commercial agriculture or living near commercial farms .
The most deadly form of exposure happens if people eat or drink it. Such exposure also happens through the skin or by inhaling it.
Repeated exposure to smaller amounts that can result in an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease or other health risks occurs over years of working with or near the herbicide, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.
This includes mixing, spraying, loading, or cleaning.
Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease Timeline
The 1980s – An experiment conducted in California found that a heroin contaminant known as MPTP destroyed dopamine neurons, which are the same neurons that suffer damage in patients who have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. MPTP and Paraquat share similar toxic chemical structures.
1997 – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that exposure to paraquat during the mixing, loading, and application of the weed killer was the primary route of exposure to the chemical . Additionally, the EPA suggested that despite the herbicide not being registered for residential use, individuals who live near farms where the herbicide is used may also be exposed to oxidative stress.
2009 – A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that any exposure to Paraquat within 1,600 feet of a home resulted in a 75% heightened risk of Parkinson’s disease .
2011 – Environmental Health Perspectives published results from a study of Parkinson’s disease cases and pesticides which concluded that Paraquat was a significant health concern .
2014 – The Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology published 5 case-control studies that revealed a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease in individuals who had been affected by Paraquat . Agricultural workers who had applied Paraquat were linked to twice the risk of Parkinson’s disease compared to the general population.
2016 – EPA announced it would be re-evaluating Paraquat, including the potential link to Parkinson’s disease.
2017 – The Unified Parkinson’s Disease Advocacy Council sent a letter to Environmental Health Sciences which included data that linked Paraquat to risk for Parkinson’s disease symptoms and pathology, and concluded by urging the agency to deny Paraquat’s re-registration .
Later that year, Paraquat litigation was filed against Syngenta Crop Protection, Growmark, and Chevron Chemical on behalf of farmers and agricultural workers who had developed Parkinson’s disease and oxidative stress after exposure to Paraquat.
2021 – The U.S. District Judge presiding over the Paraquat litigation appointed a group of 17 plaintiff attorneys to serve in various leadership positions during the coordinated pretrial proceedings. There are currently at least 150 Paraquat lawsuits filed against Syngenta Crop Protection and Chevron by plaintiffs who developed Parkinson’s disease.
Self-poisoning with herbicides like Paraquat dichloride is a major problem in developing countries.
According to a 2006 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, an estimated 300,000 deaths occur each year in the Asia-Pacific region due to self-poisoning .
How Could I Develop Parkinson’s Disease After Being Exposed?
You could be exposed to Paraquat in the following ways:
- Ingestion (most common)
- Occupational exposure
- Prolonged skin exposure
- Accidental exposure
What Happens After Absorption?
After Paraquat is absorbed inside the body, the herbicide is concentrated inside many cells and undergoes redox cycling, leading to cell damage.
Over time, these processes lead to multi-organ failure (lungs, kidneys, liver & heart).
Symptoms of Paraquat Exposure
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Mucosal lesions of the mouth and tongue
How To Test For Paraquat Exposure
- Urine test
- Chest x-ray
- ABG scan
- Renal profile
- Live function test
Is Paraquat Banned in the United States?
Paraquat is not banned in the U.S., but it is restricted to licensed applicators. Due to its link to Parkinson’s disease and other severe health effects, some lawmakers and activists have fought to get Paraquat banned.
The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020  cites that Paraquat “causes heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure, lung scarring, and damage to brain cells; and greatly increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.”
The Protect Against Paraquat Act of 2019  was introduced to require the EPA to cancel the registration for all uses of paraquat, to ban paraquat residue on food, and to prohibit the sale and use of existing paraquat stock.
To date, legislation to ban Paraquat has not been successful.
Does Paraquat Contain Roundup?
Roundup does not contain paraquat; however, commercial agricultural workers may use both types of herbicide. As more weeds become resistant to Roundup, farmers often turn to Paraquat.
Paraquat is considered many times more toxic than Roundup, but its main ingredient glyphosate is linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The EPA hasn’t restricted Roundup use to applicators, and it is available for homeowner use.
Also Read: What Products Contain Paraquat?
The “Paraquat Papers”
In March 2021, Greenpeace published “The Paraquat Papers ,” which detailed the history of attempts by Syngenta and Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) to conceal Gramoxone health risks from the public.
The papers found that ICI claimed to have added the emetic PP796 in Paraquat products to prevent fatal poisoning.
Despite this claim, internal company documents revealed that it failed to do this. It also revealed that the company knew of this problem. ICI continued to publicly assert the emetic’s effectiveness.
Additional documents suggest that it mischaracterized the addition of PP796 to keep Gramoxone on the market.
Heylings claimed that a former toxicologist for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), Syngenta’s predecessor, manipulated data to incorrectly suggest that humans were ten times as sensitive to PP796 than the other three animals that researchers used in tests.
He reported these issues to his superiors in several memos. Heylings argued that the former toxicologist’s data “misled” the business. He advised that higher PP796 doses would reduce the paraquat poisoning fatality rate.
Nonetheless, ICI ignored Heylings’ concerns. The PP796 levels in Gramoxone became the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization’s standard for paraquat-based weed killers.
EPA Sued Over Clearance of Endocrine-Disrupting Pesticide
Five public interest groups have filed a lawsuit  against the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to re-approve atrazine, a weed killer that has been banned across much of the world.
The suit alleges that “atrazine castrates frogs, impairs fish reproduction, and is linked to birth defects and cancer in humans.” EPA’s decision to clear atrazine is part of a recent effort by the agency to quickly approve numerous harmful pesticides, including paraquat, dicamba, 1,3-D, and parathyroids.
The lawsuit is RURAL COALITION, PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK NORTH AMERICA, BEYOND PESTICIDES, CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, and CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, and ANDREW WHEELER. Case: 20-73220. U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Related Article: Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Lawsuit
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic research published in 2023, Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) that affects movement, often including tremors .
The onset of symptoms occurs gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
As stated by the Cleveland Clinic 2022 research , if you developed Parkinson’s disease, you may be suffering from the following symptoms:
- Stiff muscles
- Difficulty standing
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty with bodily movements
- Involuntary movements
- Muscle rigidity
- Problems with coordination
- Rhythmic muscle contractions
- Slow bodily movement
- Slow shuffling gait
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, prescription medications can significantly improve your symptoms . In severe cases, surgery to regulate certain regions of the brain and improve symptoms may be required.
How Do I Prove I Was Exposed to Paraquat?
Paraquat exposure may be easier to prove in some cases than in others.
For instance, if you’ve worked on an industrial farm in the past, you may already be familiar with the pesticides you were exposed to.
But if you just happened to live near a commercial farm, you may be completely unaware of what toxic chemicals you’ve inadvertently been exposed to.
This is where a paraquat law firm with a proven track record can help.
If you’ve lived near an industrial farm or worked on one and have since been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a paraquat attorney may be able to help you prove your case.
How Do I Prove That Paraquat Caused My Parkinson’s Disease?
The evidence supporting the claim that paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease is very strong, as studies have revealed.
However, it can be challenging for a Paraquat Lawsuit lawyer to prove that Parkinson’s disease was caused by exposure to paraquat, which is why you and your legal team must gather as much evidence as possible — as quickly as possible.
Evidence That May Be Used in a Paraquat Parkinson’s Disease Lawsuit Includes:
- Licensure records for the paraquat applicator
- Herbicide application records obtained from the farm
- Purchase receipts for paraquat-containing herbicides
- Photos documenting paraquat application or products
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert testimony by scientists and others
Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuit Updates August 2022
The federal Paraquat class-action lawsuit continues to be one of the hottest mass tort class-action MDLs in the United States. Over the last two months, at least 150 new Paraquat lawsuits were filed or transferred into multidistrict litigation, bringing the current number of plaintiffs count up to over 1,300.
Since early 2022, the Paraquat exposure class action lawsuit has been averaging more than 120 new Paraquat Parkinson’s disease lawsuits each month. The influx of new cases in the Paraquat Parkinson’s Disease lawsuit has been very consistent and not marked by the up-and-down fluctuations common in other mass torts.
Chief Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel continues to push the parties toward a Paraquat herbicide trial later this year. Rosenstengel issued a discovery schedule that extends many of the previous deadlines set in the Court’s initial scheduling order.
Under the new order, the deadline for completion of fact discovery and medical examinations in the six Bellwether Paraquat lawsuits was July 25, 2022. This extension became necessary after the number of facts witnesses identified by the plaintiffs’ Paraquat lawyers extended initial estimates. However, the very short and limited extension ensures that the bellwether trials will remain on schedule.
July 4th, 2022: The Paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuit MDL has been adding about 130 new plaintiffs each month to the MDL for the last year. During the last 30 days, 142 new Paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuits were transferred into the federal Paraquat class action lawsuit. This brings the total number of pending cases up to 1,292.
This number is right behind the 168 new cases that got transferred into the Paraquat MDL last month. The steady pace of new Paraquat lawsuits over the last year is very different from what we have seen in other mass tort MDL class actions where the number of new lawsuits fluctuates up and down drastically from month to month.
The question continues to be whether Syngenta and Chevron intend to offer fair Paraquat lawsuit settlement amounts or whether they want to roll the dice and let a jury decide whether a compensation payout is appropriate.
June 9, 2022: The push to the first Paraquat class-action lawsuit trial moves forward. Chief Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel issued a Second Amended Discovery Schedule that provides a short, limited extension of the original discovery deadlines established for the six bellwether trial cases.
Under the discovery order, the parties will have until July 25, 2022, to complete fact discovery and medical examinations. This extension of the original deadline became necessary after the number of facts witnesses made the completion of the discovery more challenging. However, the short length of the extension should ensure that we remain on schedule for the opening bellwether trials.
May 16, 2022: The first half of this month has shown a record number of new Paraquat lawsuits being filed and added to the Paraquat class action lawsuit. At least 57 new Paraquat Parkinson’s disease cases were filed and transferred into the MDL during the first week of May.
This is the highest weekly total to date. The second week of May saw another 35 new Paraquat lawsuits added to the MDL, making it the second-highest volume week. Overall, there are more than 1,150 Paraquat plaintiffs in the Paraquat lawsuit MDL. These Parkinson’s disease lawsuits have been consolidated from around the country before Judge Rosenstengel in Illinois.
May 11, 2022: Bayer has been pursuing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Roundup lawsuits are preempted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”). The premise of the appeal is that if the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) is allowing these pesticides to remain on the market, the federal law preempts any state law injury or wrongful death claims.
The Supreme Court sought the Biden administration’s position on whether it should hear the appeal. The administration subsequently filed a brief in the case, arguing that FIFRA should not be interpreted to preempt Roundup product liability claims under state law.
If the Supreme Court rejects Bayer’s FIFRA preemption argument as is now expected, it will effectively prevent Syngenta and Chevron from making the same preemption argument in the Paraquat lawsuit.
May 4, 2022: The judge has selected 6 cases for the initial Paraquat Parkinson’s disease bellwether trials, which are moving quickly toward the first trial in November 2022. The game plan is to take 16 samples of Paraquat lawsuits out of the nearly 1000 Parkinson’s disease lawsuits that have been filed.
After some limited fact discovery in these cases, Paraquat attorneys on both sides gave Judge Rosenstengel a preference list ranking the 16 in terms of which case they most wanted to try first. Plaintiffs’ lawyers want the best facts for victims and defense attorneys want the worst.
Based on these rankings, the judge cut the list down to 6 Paraquat lawsuits. We still don’t know which Paraquat lawsuit will go first; however, full discovery will now be conducted in these six potential “first Paraquat lawsuit” cases.
April 19, 2022: There are currently at least 982 Paraquat lawsuits in the MDL class action. All of the cases allege Parkinson’s disease was caused by the plaintiff’s Paraquat exposure.
April 12, 2022: Judge Rosenstengel held the Paraquat lawsuit’s regular monthly status conference on April 1, 2022. Since then, Paraquat lawyers have filed at least 44 more Paraquat lawsuits in just 12 days.
April 1, 2022: The status conference is today. Always of interest is the current size of the Paraquat litigation and how many new cases were added to the Paraquat MDL class action lawsuit over the last month. Judge Rosenstengel may also dig deeper into the details regarding the upcoming bellwether trial selection process.
April 8, 2022: Paraquat has been banned in Fuji.
More Paraquat News Updates
March 17, 2022: 16 initial bellwether cases have been identified. Eight of the cases were selected by the plaintiffs, and the other 8 were picked by the defendants. Fact discovery in these 16 cases will conclude at the end of the month and the MDL Judge has given the parties a deadline of April 8 for submitting their “rankings” in order of preference of which cases should be scheduled for trial.
As of March 1, 2022, there are 688 Paraquat Parkinson’s disease lawsuits filed in the MDL class action. An estimated 75 Paraquat suits are pending in state court.
On February 16, 2022, the Paraquat class action judge ruled on several motions to dismiss certain claims asserted by the plaintiffs in the Paraquat lawsuit. Judge Rosenstengel granted the motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims for public nuisance and violations of Minnesota consumer protection statutes. Plaintiff’s Paraquat attorneys do not want any claims dismissed. Still, these were not significant counts in the lawsuits.
The ruling leaves the remainder of the claims in the Paraquat litigation fully intact. That clears a major obstacle for Parkinson’s disease victims, which sets the stage for Paraquat MDL to move forward into the bellwether trials in November 2022. Our lawyers hope that reasonable Paraquat settlement payouts for victims will come before that first Paraquat lawsuit goes to trial.
On February 8, 2022, the good guys got a win in the Paraquat class action in a discovery battle yesterday. The defense lawyers were asserting the attorney-client privilege to block the discovery of certain deposition transcripts of Syngenta corporate witnesses taken in a prior paraquat lawsuit in Illinois state court.
How that would be attorney-client privilege is truly anyone’s guess. The MDL judge rejected this argument and ordered the defendants to produce the transcripts.
On February 1, 2022, a dozen new Paraquat lawsuits were filed in federal court in Illinois. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits come from all over the country and allege that their exposure to Paraquat (mostly from working on commercial farms) caused them to develop Parkinson’s disease.
Most of the chronic Paraquat exposure alleged by the plaintiffs occurred decades ago. The lawsuits name both Syngenta and Chevron as defendants and assert similar causes of action based primarily on failure to warn.
Why Should I File a Paraquat Lawsuit?
There are many reasons to file Paraquat lawsuits if you’re suffering as a result of being exposed to Paraquat.
If you file a Paraquat lawsuit, it can help you:
- Secure a Paraquat lawsuit settlement to cover medical bills and other expenses
- Hold the companies that exposed you to paraquat responsible
- Spread awareness of the dangers associated with paraquat, which helps others at risk
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after working on or living near a commercial farm, you may be eligible for a paraquat settlement.
What Compensation Could I Be Awarded?
Several lawsuits have already been filed against Paraquat manufacturers alleging that the companies failed to adequately warn about the neurological risks of the herbicide and the potential for Paraquat exposure to cause Parkinson’s disease.
Since numerous plaintiffs have alleged that Paraquat caused Parkinson’s disease, these cases will likely be treated as a class action or mass tort. When a lawsuit with numerous plaintiffs settles, the total amount of compensation each plaintiff receives often depends on a variety of factors, including:
- The final amount of the total Paraquat settlement
- The severity of each plaintiff’s damages
- Proof of individual damages
- Other legal factors
Although the exact compensation can never be predicted before a case settles, and there are never any guarantees, individuals in similar cases involving toxic chemicals have recovered substantial amounts for their damages.
Settlements in Similar Cases
In June 2020, Bayer announced it agreed to pay more than $10 billion to settle current and future claims that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. Before settling, the manufacturer faced more than 120,000 lawsuits alleging that Bayer failed to warn the public that its product contained known carcinogens linked to the development of certain types of cancer.
In addition to this massive settlement, previous jury verdicts against Bayer and the former Roundup manufacturer Monsanto awarded victims more than $2.3 billion in damages covering medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, some of these verdicts were later reduced by judges on appeal.
As of mid-2022, many victims have started receiving the first Roundup settlement checks, with subsequent disbursements to follow. The exact amount that each plaintiff will recover depends on a variety of factors including the severity of the injury, the level of Roundup exposure, and the type of cancer involved. However, legal experts expect that these Paraquat lawsuit settlements will pay out an average of $100,000 to $150,000.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Paraquat Lawsuits?
The statute of limitations on Paraquat cancer exposure cases varies by state; however, in most U.S. states, plaintiffs must file a personal injury claim within 2 to 3 years of the date of injury. There may be some exceptions.
If you miss the statute of limitations deadline in your state, you may be barred from filing a paraquat lawsuit. This makes it even more important that you immediately speak with an experienced Paraquat lawyer who can determine your eligibility, evaluate the relevant statute of limitations, and advise you on how to file a Paraquat claim.
See all related toxic tort lawsuits that we’ve covered.
Get a Free Paraquat Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Pharmaceutical Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in federal lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new Parkinson’s disease cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one developed Parkinson’s disease or other serious side effects after being exposed to Paraquat herbicide, you should contact a Paraquat Lawyer immediately. You may be entitled to a Paraquat settlement by filing a suit and a Paraquat Lawyer can help.