The manufacturers of the commercial herbicide paraquat are currently facing product liability claims from agricultural workers and residents of farming communities. Plaintiffs in these claims argue that companies like Chevron and Syngenta should be found liable for damages like medical bills, lost wages, and loss of quality of life caused by the illnesses inflicted due to Paraquat exposure. Farmers and residents of agricultural communities say that paraquat manufacturers have negligently produced and marketed this industrial weed killer without taking proper precautions.
Numerous plaintiffs report developing Parkinson’s disease after passive exposure to paraquat, such as through inhalation or ingesting food that had been grown in contaminated soil. If you or a loved one has developed Parkinson’s disease after exposure to paraquat, you should speak with a product liability lawyer for more information on what your paraquat lawsuit may be worth.
Herbicide Paraquat is a Known For Its Deadly Capabilities
Paraquat is commonly used in commercial farming operations throughout the U.S. to improve harvest by killing weeds. Despite its pervasiveness in the U.S., it remains one of the most dangerous weed killers on the market if ingested. In fact, it has already been banned in dozens of other countries, and states like California are facing increasing pressure to follow suit.
When ingested, paraquat ravages the body, typically beginning with severe gastrointestinal issues and leading to organ failure. There is no antidote, and most people who ingest paraquat in even small quantities do not survive. Previous safety measures, such as including a vomit-inducing additive, have failed to deliver as advertised. In fact, paraquat manufacturer Syngenta has been accused of intentionally manipulating data to conceal the true dangers of this chemical.
Beyond the concerns associated with direct ingestion, plaintiffs in the paraquat lawsuits are raising concerns that long-term, indirect exposure can also be incredibly dangerous. It has previously been linked to Parkinson’s disease, which is more common in rural areas where paraquat is more heavily used.
The Connection Between Paraquat Exposure and Parkinson’s Disease
The incidence rate of Parkinson’s disease has increased alarmingly in recent years, a fact that is largely attributed to environmental factors, such as exposure to toxins like paraquat. In most cases, victims of accidental paraquat exposure are agricultural workers or those who live in communities near industrial farming operations. They may absorb paraquat through their skin after touching contaminated equipment, inhale the chemical as it is being sprayed over crops, or ingest it through food or water that has come into contact with paraquat.
Understanding Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder that often first presents with an uncontrollable tremor. From there, it progresses to muscle stiffness and slurred speech as the brain cells that produce dopamine continue to deteriorate. In time, most people with Parkinson’s disease have trouble moving on their own or speaking clearly.
Parkinson’s disease does not have a cure, but it can be managed to an extent. Eventually, most people with Parkinson’s experience a loss of physical coordination and independence, which can have additional financial and emotional consequences. These damages can potentially be compensated in a product liability lawsuit.
Recovering Damages in a Paraquat Lawsuit
Plaintiffs may be entitled to compensation for their financial losses in the form of economic damages. Consider that people with Parkinson’s often require additional help, such as a caregiver, as the disease progresses. At that point, they may be unable to perform the physical demands of their job, reducing their income.
On top of that, they may need a home health aid to keep up with their medications and physical therapy, which is an additional expense. The surrounding costs of treatment, such as transportation, may also be eligible for compensation. Economic costs can accumulate quickly, leaving injured plaintiffs limited recourse except to seek compensatory damages in a product liability lawsuit.
The inability to move independently, continue a career, speak understandably, or care for yourself can take a significant emotional toll. In personal injury law, there is an avenue that allows plaintiffs to recover compensation for their intangible losses. Non-economic damages provide a way for plaintiffs to secure financial relief for costs that don’t have a price tag, such as their mental health, or pain and suffering.
Examples of Damages in a Paraquat Lasuit:
- Medical bills
- Lab tests
- Physical therapy
- Mobility aids
- Home medical equipment
- Home modifications
- Job-related losses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Missed promotions
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of services and support
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction
In order to recover compensation, plaintiffs must be able to demonstrate the value of their damages and create a chain of causation. While the defendants have already been sanctioned for their behavior during the claims process, it is still an uphill struggle for plaintiffs, as they have the burden of proof. This evidentiary standard demands that they must convince a judge or jury that the defendants were more likely than not negligent in their actions, and that those actions caused their injuries and resulting damages.
What Plaintiffs Can Expect in a Paraquat Settlement
The paraquat claims are currently being considered as a multidistrict litigation. This means that while plaintiffs can work together to mount a claim by sharing resources and strategies, they hold on to their ability to recover compensation for their individual damages. That being said, the value of a claim may vary significantly based on the extent of the individual’s damages and the different details unique to their individual case.
For example, a 23-year-old farmhand who develops Parkinson’s from paraquat exposure would likely get a significantly larger settlement than a retired 87-year-old farmer who also developed Parkinson’s from paraquat exposure. Based on previous comparable cases, a general range may be from $100,000 to $150,000. Once the bellwether trials have been completed, the settlement values plaintiffs can expect will become more clear.
The paraquat jury trial is currently scheduled for October 16th, 2023. To increase your chances of maximizing your compensation, you should consult a personal injury attorney who specializes in product liability claims. Having a qualified representative to negotiate on your behalf can not only alleviate the administrative burdens of filing a personal injury claim, but it can also help you establish the defendant’s liability and maximize your compensation.