A Philadelphia judge overseeing lawsuits filed at the state level against Syngenta and Chevron over their product Paraquat has approved a short-form complaint to aid in plaintiff filings. This order will allow more plaintiffs to file claims regarding the alleged health consequences associated with using Paraquat.

In large, complex product liability cases where high numbers of plaintiffs are expected to pursue similar claims, the Court may choose to approve a Short Form Complaint. The Short Form Complaint will allow future plaintiffs to join the lawsuit as long as they have similar claims and similar circumstances. This is similar to the national practice of creating multi-district litigation (MDL).

In this case, the abbreviated short-form complaint will allege that plaintiffs developed neurological injuries after using Paraquat. According to plaintiffs, Syngenta and Chevron failed to sufficiently warn farmers and agricultural workers that the use of Paraquat could result in a number of neurological conditions, most commonly the development of Parkinson’s Disease. 

The plaintiffs state that even when all correct usage instructions are followed, the risk of developing these adverse effects is still present. Additionally, it has been shown in internal documents revealed during the discovery process that Syngenta was aware of the link between Paraquat and adverse health effects since the 1950s. The so-called Paraquat Papers also featured internal notes and evidence that indicated that the specific association between paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease was known to Syngenta as early as 2001.

These claims mirror the pending claims in an MDL placed under the authority of U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois. If the MDL is stopped or dismissed, then many claims will have to return to the states in which they originated, resulting in thousands of displaced plaintiffs who may need to make use of the short-form complaint to refile their cases at the state level.