First Paraquat Trial Delayed, But MDL Is Created as More Lawsuits Come to Bear
The first trial among multiple claims filed against Paraquat makers and distributors was delayed. It was the most recent of several delays for this highly anticipated litigation. The claim involves a man who developed Parkinson’s disease after decades of exposure to Paraquat.
Thomas Hoffman worked as a farmer. According to his complaint, the plaintiff was first exposed to Paraquat when he was in the fifth grade, and the exposure continued for decades in the course of Hoffman’s farming work. He died in 2017, only 23 days after filing his lawsuit.
Hoffman had filed his lawsuit against Syngenta, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, and Growmark Inc. on September 15, 2017. According to the complaint, the defendants knew “that Paraquat is toxic to both plant and animal cells, and that its creation of oxidative stress in cells is the source of its toxicity, have been known to science since at least the 1960s. Paraquat is among the handful of toxins that scientists use to produce animal models of Parkinson’s disease.”
Other Paraquat Lawsuits
In April 2021, a Missouri woman filed a lawsuit in federal court in Missouri alleging that she developed Parkinson’s as a result of her exposure to Paraquat. Her complaint names the same defendants as Hoffman’s lawsuit. According to the Missouri woman, she suffered regular exposure to the herbicide over the course of 15 years. Besides direct exposure, she was exposed via contaminated drinking water and from wind drift. The herbicide was regularly sprayed on her farm, and she handled the substance at her job working for Monroe County Service Company. She also came into contact with Paraquat while washing her husband’s clothes after he had sprayed the herbicide.
In June, a Fort Worth, Texas couple sued Paraquat makers after plaintiff David Tackel developed Parkinson’s. Tackel had been exposed to the herbicide in his work for Rock Island Railroad starting in 1970. The plaintiff sprayed Paraquat around railroad bridges and also officed in a small room where the herbicide was stored. Tackel and his wife allege that the Paraquat makers knew of and concealed the dangers of Paraquat for at least 40 years.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation received a motion to consolidate pending Paraquat lawsuits in the Northern District of California. In June, Reuters reported that the panel created the new MDL in the Southern District of Illinois (In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation, Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, No. 3004).
Research Supports the Paraquat-Parkinson’s Connection
According to data published by the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA), more than 15 million pounds of Paraquat were applied to U.S. crops in 2017 alone.
More than 30 countries have banned Paraquat in the wake of multiple scientific studies showing the health risks of the herbicide. In February 2011, Environmental Health Perspectives published a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and the Parkinson’s Institute. The study revealed that Iowa and North Carolina farm families showed that people who had endured exposure to either Paraquat or Rotenone suffered a risk of developing Parkinson’s disease 250 percent greater than those who had not been exposed to the herbicides. This influential research is known as the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME) study.
In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a statement confirming the existence of “a large body of epidemiology data on Paraquat dichloride use and Parkinson’s disease.”