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Paraquat Lawsuit Update: August 2022

Paraquat is still legal to use in the U.S. despite its well-known dangers. A chemical compound used as an herbicide since the 1950s, paraquat dichloride can kill people, and its use has also been linked to Parkinson’s disease. Paraquat’s alleged link to Parkinson’s disease has led to civil litigation.

Ingesting paraquat is fatal, and no antidote is available. One or two people die each year of paraquat poisoning, so expert training is needed to handle it. But even when it is used “properly” as directed, paraquat is still quite dangerous.

Though paraquat use is still legal for those who are licensed to handle it, plaintiffs’ attorneys have filed several lawsuits against paraquat makers. Those who have filed these suits would be wise to understand the facts and their rights in the claims their attorneys have filed.

What is Paraquat?

Paraquat dichloride is a chemical compound that has been in use as an herbicide since the 1950s. In the United States, paraquat is considered a restricted use pesticide, which means that applicators must be trained and certified in its use.

A Paraquat Parkinson’s Link?

Paraquat pesticide lawsuits claim that there is a link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. Several studies examining that link have been performed with variable results. Some studies appear to show that paraquat exposure is linked with a rise in the incidence of Parkinson’s disease. Other studies have indicated little or no correlation links the two.

A review in 2021 of studies that have examined the link showed no link between paraquat and Parkinson’s. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is no connection between the two; it means only that no link has yet been proven. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the connection does not exist.

Those studies include:

  • 2011 – An Agricultural Health Study (AHS) shows paraquat exposure is positively correlated with mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress. This led to a Parkinson’s disease increase in the surveyed group.
  • 2020 – A study of U.S. farmers and their wives in a 20-year time frame found no definitive evidence that linked paraquat exposure with Parkinson’s. It also found that people who suffered head injuries as well as paraquat exposure were slightly more likely to develop Parkinson’s. The EPA claims this study shows there is no link between paraquat use and Parkinson’s. However, the study results are arguably ambiguous, and EPA – as in the Monsanto Roundup litigation – has been shown to be an agency captured by industry.
  • 2021 – A study examined 968 people in the U.K. who worked at paraquat producing factories from 1961 to 1995. That study showed no increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

A Paraquat Parkinson’s Settlement?

No settlement has been reached in the Paraquat Parkinson’s litigation. The multi-litigation court (MDL) is in its early phase. Any potential amounts from any settlement could be affected by how many plaintiffs will eventually be involved. Paraquat cases will likely be tried in civil court, with potential financial damages.

Who Qualifies for a Potential Paraquat Lawsuit?

Anyone in the U.S. who has been exposed to paraquat and then suffered related health problems could potentially file a lawsuit against its makers and distributors. Anyone who was exposed to paraquat or who lived in an agricultural community where it may have been used and then developed Parkinson’s might wish to consult an attorney for a legal case evaluation.

Indirect paraquat exposure has not been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s; however, evidence indicates that even small amounts of the chemical can be toxic through ingestion. Therefore, one doesn’t need to have been an agricultural or paraquat factory worker to examine a potential lawsuit.

Most plaintiffs in the filed Paraquat-Parkinson’s suits either used paraquat or were directly exposed to it working in agriculture or in a paraquat-making factory.

In the final analysis, receiving a legal case evaluation from a lawyer who specializes in mass tort litigation might be the best way forward for potential plaintiffs.

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