Nearly 70 lawsuits have been filed against global agricultural giant Syngenta and other manufacturers of the toxic chemical herbicide paraquat, including a record six lawsuits filed in one day earlier this month.
Chevron Chemical Company, Growmark, and the Adama group are also named in some lawsuits as manufacturers and distributors of paraquat-containing products.
Paraquat is marketed under the brand name Gramoxone by Syngenta and by other companies as Para-SHOT, Helmquat, Parazone, Firestorm, Ortho-Paraquat, Quick-Quat, Devour, and Blanco.
Paraquat is classified for "restricted use” in the U.S., which means that only licensed applicators can purchase or use it.
Considered “highly poisonous” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, paraquat has been banned in more than 32 countries including all European Union member nations since 2007.
Paraquat Lawsuit MDL Consolidation Requested
In early April, two plaintiffs filed a request for multidistrict litigation. MDLs combine related individual lawsuits in a single federal court, enabling plaintiffs to share costs and pool resources. The plaintiffs are requesting that the lawsuits be consolidated in Illinois, since it’s a geographically central location for the widespread cases.
Syngenta announced that it isn’t opposed to consolidating lawsuits against it but has proposed several alternate MDL locations according to Law360.
"These filings are only the tip of the iceberg with what is expected to be the next major mass tort. The manufacturers of paraquat knew for decades that their product was linked to Parkinson's disease yet chose to hide this information from regulators and the public,” a team of plaintiffs attorneys said in a statement.
Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is an incurable, progressive neurological condition affecting movement. Symptoms include slowness, stiffness, tremors, trouble walking, and balance problems. Due to its neurological nature, it can also lead to cognitive impairment or more severely, Parkinson’s dementia.
Numerous studies have found connections between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease. A 2011 study from the National Institutes of Health found that using paraquat or rotenone, another herbicide, would increase the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s by 250%.
Despite the body of evidence, the Environmental Protection Agency asserts that there isn’t enough evidence to prove this link.