Pressure Grows for California to Ban Paraquat

Paraquat Parkinson's disease lawsuit
Pressure Grows for California to Ban Paraquat

California regulators are facing increasing pressure from environmental advocacy groups to cease the use of the weed killer, paraquat, in California agricultural operations. Advocates from the Center for Biological Diversity and Californians for Pesticide Reform claim that the agricultural chemical’s ties to Parkinson’s disease should render it obsolete. California is one of the largest users of Paraquat, which means more opportunities for farm workers to be exposed to this toxic chemical. 

Thousands of product liability claims have been made against Syngenta and Chevron for their failure to add warning labels about the risk of Parkinson’s disease to their products. The plaintiffs are primarily agricultural workers who believe that their inhalation or absorption of paraquat through their skin led to their health issues. If you have been subject to long-term exposure to paraquat and have developed Parkinson’s disease, you should act quickly to protect your right to recover damages. Reach out to a product liability lawyer to discuss your options for legal recourse.

What is Paraquat?

Paraquat is an industrial weed killer that has been heavily used in the U.S. since the 1960s. Currently, it is banned in numerous other countries, and limited to use by authorized commercial agricultural operations in the U.S. In order to become a licensed applicator, you must undergo training and a certification process.

While is it quite effective as a weed killer, paraquat dichloride is very harmful to humans. It is known for being highly toxic and fatal when ingested, as no antidote exists. Regulators have even gone so far as to ensure that it has a distinctive color and smell, and lace it with a substance that induces vomiting. Agricultural workers are now claiming that their passive absorption of paraquat while working with crops has led them to develop Parkinson's disease.

Paraquat Herbicide Linked to Parkinson's Disease

The plaintiff’s claims for damages rest on research that suggests paraquat exposure could cause Parkinson’s disease. Some studies call the link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease inconclusive, while others make a case for a causal relationship. This lack of definitive proof complicates the plaintiffs’ road to recovering damages, but the allegations are serious enough to warrant close inspection.

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for regulating chemicals like paraquat. When the renewal period for paraquat came up most recently, they allowed paraquat use to continue with added restrictions. The EPA is currently reevaluating its decision on the use of Paraquat after environmental advocacy groups challenged their most recent approval of the weed killer. 

How Paraquat Can Increase the Risk of Parkinson's Disease

Plaintiffs argue that they were exposed to toxic levels of paraquat while working with the substance in agricultural settings. It can be absorbed through the skin, particularly through open cuts. Paraquat can also be inhaled or ingested. In addition to the agricultural workers who handle this toxic substance daily, people who live in the surrounding community may be at an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease from paraquat exposure.

Certain studies suggest that the toxic chemicals in paraquat induce oxidative stress in certain brain cells. The brain cells in question are located in an area called the "substantia nigra" and are tasked with producing dopamine. When these brain cells cannot function properly, they die, leaving the body without the proper amount of dopamine. This can trigger Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain condition.

Parkinson’s disease is known for its ability to decimate mobility and eventually cognitive function. It often begins with a tell-tale hand tremor and escalates from there into stiffness and involuntary movements. As the disease progresses, it can cause sleep and speech issues, as well as depression, confusion, and a number of other serious health issues. There are treatments, but no cure, for Parkinson’s.

Recovering Damages in a Paraquat Lawsuit 

A Parkinson’s diagnosis is a life-altering event. People who have been diagnosed with this progressive disease face many years of medical bills while their ability to work simultaneously diminishes. In addition to the economic costs they will incur, the decline in their physical health will likely have negative ramifications for their mental health. 

Those with Parkison’s disease related to paraquat exposure and their families may be eligible to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic damages in a product liability lawsuit. Economic damages can reimburse plaintiffs for the financial losses they have sustained, while non-economic damages are intended to compensate for emotional losses with a more subjective value.

Examples of Damages in a Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuit:

  • Medical expenses
    • Medication
    • Lab tests
    • Medical imaging
    • Physical therapy
    • Home health aides
    • Mobility aids
    • Home modifications
    • Hospital stays
  • Job-related losses
    • Lost wages
    • Reduced earning capacity
    • Missed promotions
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death
    • Loss of parental guidance
    • Loss of consortium
    • Loss of services and support

When someone is diagnosed with parkin’s disease, the impact is often felt by their family as well. Many families are forced to make lifestyle changes and financial sacrifices in order to provide their loved one with the care they need. You may be eligible to recover these losses in a product liability lawsuit.

Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit After Paraquat Use

Plaintiffs in the paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuit allege that makers like Syngenta and Chevron have failed to uphold their duty of care to consumers by neglecting to provide a warning label alerting users to their increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. If the plaintiffs are successful in establishing this, they must then be able to demonstrate that the makers of paraquat’s negligence led to them developing Parkinson’s and incurring damages.

There is currently a multidistrict litigation in progress against the makers of Gramoxone, a brand of paraquat. After the bellwether trials are concluded, we will have a clearer picture of what a paraquat Parkinson’s settlement could be worth, and how receptive the courts are to these claims. 

While we await the outcome of these product liability claims, it is in your best interest to seek out the legal advice of a product liability attorney who can help protect your rights, gather evidence, and negotiate for maximum compensation.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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