The judge who is presiding over a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for Paraquat lawsuits scheduled a conference for June 23, 2021, wherein defendants’ and plaintiffs’ lawyers will meet for the first time. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits consist largely of agricultural workers and farmers who developed Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to the Paraquat herbicide.
According to Rosentengel’s Case Management Order, the conference will be held via Zoom at 2pm. Plaintiffs’ lawyers and pro se plaintiffs have the option of attending the meeting. The Court will guide discussions regarding leadership positions in the MDL. Both parties will submit briefs that outline their respective views on the primary facts, claims, and defenses, along with “critical factual and legal issues.”
Prior to the conference, lawyers for the plaintiffs and defendants will jointly file a statement listing all known Paraquat cases that are pending in state or federal court to be included in the Master Docket. The attorneys have until June 22, 2021, at noon to file this statement. Each of the defendants will have designated a single attorney to speak on their behalf at the initial conference.
Parties who have not been named in this particular litigation but who may later be joined to the MDL are also permitted to attend the Zoom meeting.
More on the Paraquat MDL
The Judicial Panel on MDL created a new MDL (In re: Paraquat Products Liability Litigation, Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, No. 3004) for claims against Paraquat makers in Southern District of Illinois, according to Reuters. Both plaintiffs and defendants supported the centralization of cases, but the two sides vehemently disagreed about the appropriate venue. While some plaintiffs agreed with Illinois, others sought the Northern district of California or the Eastern District of Missouri.
Defendants, on the other hand, all agreed that the Southern District of Illinois was not where they wanted the centralized cases to be tried.
According to the panel, Illinois ranks among the top five states for paraquat usage.
Chief U.S. District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel will preside over lawsuits claiming that the popular herbicide Paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease. The Judicial Panel on MDL assigned the role, stating their confidence in Rosenstengel’s ability to oversee the litigation.
More on the Plaintiffs and Defendants in the Paraquat MDL
Plaintiffs in the growing number of Paraquat claims are seeking damages from the weedkiller makers Syngenta and Chevron.
Rosenstengel will now preside over 33 Paraquat cases that are coming in from Northern California, in addition to 24 cases coming from other districts. The judge was already presiding over 20 Paraquat lawsuits before the MDL took effect.
The first Paraquat case in the Southern District of Illinois came to court on February 23, 2021, when plaintiff James Hemker filed a claim against Syngenta and Chevron. Other suits quickly followed.
The most recent claimant to step forward is David Tackel, a man from Fort Worth, Texas, who worked with Paraquat starting in 1970. Tackel sprayed the herbicide around railroad bridges when he worked for Rock Island Railroad. He was also officed in a tiny room where the herbicide was stored. Tackel was later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He and his wife, like other plaintiffs, allege that the defendants knew of and hid the dangers of Paraquat for at least 40 years.