Paraquat is a well-known weed killer used throughout the U.S. It contains highly toxic chemicals that make it fatal when ingested. However, a growing number of agricultural workers argue that the makers of paraquat did not provide the appropriate warnings pertaining to long-term exposure, such as through low-level inhalation or through using contaminated water.
Agricultural workers and residents of farming communities have filed paraquat lawsuits to recover compensation for damages like medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages related to their Parkinson’s disease and other injuries. If you have regularly come into contact with paraquat through passive or indirect exposure, you may still be able to pursue compensation in a product liability lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer can provide the legal insight you need to secure a fair settlement for your paraquat claim.
Repeated Exposure to Paraquat May Cause Parkinson’s Disease
It is common knowledge that consuming paraquat, even in small amounts, is often lethal. To mitigate this risk, the makers of paraquat have used additives to make it blue and cause anyone who ingested it to vomit. Additionally, anyone who handles paraquat must be licensed, and paraquat is only sold for commercial farming purposes. Despite these precautions, paraquat is still one of the most dangerous herbicides on the market.
States like California, where many commercial farming operations rely on paraquat, are considering banning it. The agricultural workers and environmentalists who support banning paraquat in the U.S. argue that even if people are not accidentally or intentionally drinking it, it still represents a health threat. Research shows that exposure to paraquat through inhalation, through the skin, through drinking contaminated water, or by eating crops that have come into contact with paraquat can cause Parkinson’s disease.
The number of Parkinson’s cases has increased alarmingly compared to prior estimates. Many researchers attribute this trend to environmental factors, rather than the natural aging of the U.S. population. In light of this new evidence, the EPA has decided to reevaluate its previous approval of paraquat use, even though they added additional safeguards. Meanwhile, agricultural workers and farming communities have been left to deal with the fallout associated with long-term exposure to paraquat.
Farmers File Product Liability Lawsuits Against the Makers of Paraquat
Agricultural workers who develop Parkinson’s disease, an incurable and degenerative neurological disorder, have reason to believe that paraquat is responsible for their condition. Many have filed product liability claims that allege paraquat makers were negligent because their warning labels did not alert users to the fact that even passive absorption could lead to serious conditions like Parkinson’s disease. The makers of paraquat products, such as Syngeta, argue that the evidence supporting a link between Parkinson’s and paraquat is insufficient.
The trial for the paraquat lawsuits was delayed until October 16th, 2023, at which time both sides will have the opportunity to make their arguments in court before a jury. Defendants have already exhibited behavior that damages their credibility, such as in the case of a Chevron defense attorney who inappropriately influenced an expert witness and faced sanctions.
Additionally, the makers of paraquat are already at a disadvantage, as internal documents show that Syngenta purposefully altered their data and effectively lied to consumers about the risks of paraquat. If plaintiffs are able to establish that companies like Syngenta are liable for their damages, they may be able to recover compensation for the physical, financial, and emotional costs of their paraquat-related injuries.
Understanding the Long-Term Effects of Paraquat Exposure
Over time, paraquat exposure can have a devastating effect on the body’s respiratory system, brain, and other vital organs. A number of serious long-term injuries are associated with paraquat exposure, including:
- Severe scarring of the lungs
- Kidney failure
- Heart failure
- Esophageal strictures
- Parkinson’s disease
Survivors of paraquat exposure may need organ transplants for their heart or kidneys, a risky, painful, and long process. Damage to the lungs can compromise breathing, and therefore movement and speech. Esophageal strictures can make it difficult to swallow, which means that speaking and eating may become a challenge.
In the case of Parkinson's disease, a person becomes unable to control their movements, which impacts both speech and mobility. Generally speaking, the injuries associated with exposure to paraquat can render a person unable to move, speak, or function independently. In turn, these serious physical injuries often create financial and emotional consequences, which can also be compensated in a paraquat lawsuit.
Recovering Compensation for Damages Caused by Paraquat Exposure
For the agricultural workers and the farming community residents who have developed Parkinson’s disease as a result of paraquat exposure, their injuries have extensive consequences for their family’s financial future, their mental health, and their physical health. To begin with, the loss of mobility often means that they are no longer able to independently operate their farms or continue as an agricultural worker.
For many, that means their family now has a compromised source of income just as medical bills are beginning to pile up. The loss of an occupation and the inability to perform the daily tasks they used to can be incredibly stressful, leading to issues with anxiety and depression. Personal injury lawsuits provide a way for people who have been harmed by another party’s negligence to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages allow plaintiffs to secure financial relief for monetary costs, while non-economic damages offer compensation for emotional losses.
Examples of Damages in a Paraquat Lawsuit:
- Medical bills
- Lab tests
- Hospital stays
- Job-related losses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Missed promotions
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death
- Loss of services and support
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses
In a product liability lawsuit, plaintiffs must present evidence that the damages they sustained are related to their injuries. A product liability attorney will have the experience to accurately evaluate your damages to determine what your paraquat claim is worth and the skills to negotiate a settlement that reflects the true value of your claim.