When Will the Paraquat Lawsuit be Settled?

When Will the Paraquat Lawsuit be Settled?
When Will the Paraquat Lawsuit be Settled?

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after being exposed to the widely used industrial herbicide paraquat dichloride and are seeking compensation for your damages through the paraquat multi-district litigation (MDL), you are probably wondering, "When will the paraquat lawsuit be settled?" Unfortunately, there is no standard or typical timeline for mass tort claims. These cases tend to be highly complex, involve multiple parties, require extensive discovery processes, and involve intricate legal and scientific matters.

What we can tell you, as of September 2023, is that the paraquat litigation is ongoing. Judge Nancy Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois has postponed the first bellwether trial, scheduled to begin October 16, to allow more time to make important decisions about the expert evidence presented at Daubert hearings. Her decision could bring a new date for the first bellwether trial or spell the end of the paraquat MDL altogether.

Why Are People Filing Paraquat Lawsuits?

Paraquat is a highly toxic weedkiller widely used in the U.S. to control the overgrowth of weeds and grass. Paraquat exposure by skin, ingestion, or inhalation can cause immediate severe and often deadly health problems. For this reason, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits its use to industrial applications only and requires those who mix, fill, or apply it to be certified and wear protective equipment.

Paraquat Lawsuit Update

Studies dating back to 2009 began showing that agricultural workers who used paraquat over long periods were much more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those not exposed to the herbicide. Similarly, people who lived near fields where paraquat was applied were also more likely to develop the progressive brain disorder.

Paraquat manufacturers, such as Syngenta and Chevron Corporation, have long dismissed the scientific evidence and refused to warn users of the risk of Parkinson’s disease. The first paraquat lawsuits were filed against the companies in 2017. But it wasn’t until 2019, after more research was published and awareness of the Parkinson’s risk with paraquat grew, that more paraquat cases were filed.

By June 2021, so many paraquat lawsuits were pending that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the lawsuits into multi-district litigation under Judge Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois.

Why is the Paraquat Settlement Taking So Long?

The first bellwether trial in the paraquat litigation was originally set for March 2023. Bellwether trials are often employed in complex litigation cases to serve as a test case that can help both parties (plaintiffs and defendants) gauge the likely outcomes of similar cases and potentially facilitate settlement negotiations.

That trial was rescheduled to July 2023 due to various scheduling conflicts and again to October 2023 to allow more time for the Daubert hearings.

A Daubert hearing is a trial judge’s evaluation of the reliability and relevance of an expert’s testimony and evidence before it is presented to a jury. In other words, the Daubert standard places the responsibility on trial judges to serve as “gatekeepers” of scientific evidence. Rather than relying on an expert’s reputation or credentials, the judge must assess the methodology and reasoning behind an expert’s opinions when deciding if the expert’s testimony can be admissible in court.

These hearings are key and must be resolved before a case can go to trial, especially in a case like paraquat, which relies heavily on scientific evidence to establish a link between paraquat exposure and Parkinson's disease. The plaintiffs' top expert is Dr. Martin Wells, Chairman of Cornell University’s Department of Statistics and Data Science. The defendants, meanwhile, continue to dismiss the research.

We are currently awaiting Judge Rosenstengel’s decision on these important Daubert issues, which will play a pivotal role in the next steps of the paraquat MDL. Meanwhile, the judge postponed the October 16th trial with no alternative date given.

Judge Rosenstengel’s decision will likely not come soon as she will need to review the arguments and briefs from both sides, her clerk will do more legal research, and it will take time to draft the decision — all while the judge manages a full docket of other cases.

Even if she decides there is enough evidence for the case to be tried — and we believe she will — it won’t come soon enough for both parties to prepare for trial in a few short weeks. We at Lawsuit Legal News expect the first bellwether trial will be continued into 2024.

However, if Judge Rosenstengel rules for the defendants and decides there is not enough scientific evidence to bring the case to trial, the MDL would likely be dismissed.

Several studies have linked Parkinson’s and paraquat. Here is some of the most compelling evidence:

  • April 2009 – The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study that found that living within 1,600 feet of fields sprayed with paraquat increased a person's risk of developing Parkinson's disease by 75%.
  • June 2011Environmental Health Perspectives published a study that positively associated exposure to paraquat and another herbicide to Parkinson’s disease.
  • May 2018 – A University of Guelph study found that paraquat exposure can disrupt human cells and cause mutations known to cause Parkinson’s disease.
  • 2019 – The Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health published research that found people frequently exposed to paraquat had a 25% greater chance of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and those with even greater exposure were even more likely to develop the disease.

Lawsuit Legal News believes in the science that supports the claims of those who suffered harm from paraquat exposure. We firmly believe that the paraquat manufacturers, including Syngenta and Chevron Corporation, should be held responsible for their actions. If you or a loved one was exposed to paraquat and later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you deserve the opportunity to seek compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Call our experienced mass tort lawyers today at 866-467-0943 or complete our online form for a free and confidential consultation.


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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