All About Paraquat Settlements

What Are Paraquat Settlements?

Agricultural workers and others who experienced significant exposure to the herbicide paraquat dichloride are suing manufacturers of the toxic chemical because of recently-discovered links to Parkinson’s disease. If you worked with this herbicide and have a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, you may be able to file a claim and join the multidistrict litigation (MDL) already in progress. 

Attorneys are offering free consultations for those who may qualify. It may be possible to get a jury award or cash settlement based on the facts of your case. 

Paraquat Lawsuit Settlements & Recalls – Parkinson’s Disease

Paraquat is an herbicide used on crops to prevent grass and weed growth. Ingestion and inhalation of this chemical are both dangerous to humans and animals alike. Injuries can also occur when it comes into contact with skin, particularly if there are open wounds or mucous membranes. 

While the herbicide’s status as a restricted use pesticide (RUP) and the addition of a distinct color and smell have reduced the risk of unintentional poisoning, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out that this is still a dangerous possibility. Moreover, it can be deadly within 48 hours, and there is no known antidote.

Still, this is not the most pressing concern about paraquat exposure. Despite being on the market for more than 60 years, the link between the herbicide and Parkinson’s disease is relatively new.

Paraquat Lawsuit – Settlements & Recalls – Parkinson’s Disease

Over the last 10 to 15 years, numerous studies have linked paraquat use-often in combination with other herbicides-with an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. While these studies are not rock-solid proof of cause, they show a clear pattern of a link. Some of the published findings include: 

  • The American Journal of Epidemiology: This study uncovered an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease in those who experienced exposure to the herbicides paraquat and maneb. The condition was diagnosed 75 percent more often in those with this type of exposure. 
  • Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology: This 2009 study found a link between using any of a list of eight herbicides or pesticides and an increase in Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.
  • Cell Death & Differentiation: This review of several ​​epidemiological studies published in 2010 examined the link between paraquat use and the development of Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
  • Environmental Health Perspectives: This 2011 study found that those exposed to paraquat and herbicide rotenone developed Parkinson’s disease 2.5 times more often than those who did not. It considered whether oxidative stress from these chemicals played a role.

Compensation in Paraquat Lawsuits

Agricultural workers and others who have documented exposure to paraquat and a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis may be able to recover compensation by filing a paraquat lawsuit. These companies should be held responsible for their dangerous products and the damage they caused. 

It may be possible for claimants to win a jury award or recover a settlement that allows them to cover their costs related to:

  • Medical management of their disease
  • Ongoing and future care and support costs
  • Lost income and reduced ability to work and earn
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages for those whose cases go to trial

There are already hundreds of lawsuits pending, and many more individuals likely qualify to take legal action. If you have questions about your eligibility or wonder if your case might support compensation, you can speak with a mass tort lawsuit attorney today for free. Law firms handling paraquat cases generally provide free consultations to discuss your legal options. 

They also understand that many people cannot afford an attorney upfront. For this reason, they usually represent clients based on contingency fees. They will pay to develop your case and take action and will get their fees from the money you receive in the case. 

Will My Paraquat Case Be Handled as a Class Action

If you are filing a civil action based on your Parkinson’s disease diagnosis and paraquat exposure, it is very unlikely there will be a class action. In June 2021, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation opted to centralize the paraquat litigation in the Southern District of Illinois. This case is known as MDL 3004.

Like class action lawsuits, MDLs are a type of mass tort that allows the court system to deal with a large number of cases at once. However, each claim remains independent in an MDL. The plaintiffs work together for pretrial motions, discovery, and a few initial trials known as the bellwether cases. Using the bellwether jury verdicts as an indication of how future cases may go, one of three things generally happen:

  • Any remaining plaintiffs drop their suits.
  • The defense offers a global settlement to end most or all of the litigation.
  • Each lawsuit returns to its original jurisdiction for trial.

Unlike a class action lawsuit, the outcome in the bellwether trials does not directly affect other plaintiffs. 

As of December 15, 2021, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) reported nearly 500 lawsuits active in this MDL. This total has almost doubled since the MDL began. The rapid growth will likely continue as the case progresses and more people learn about who qualifies to sue in this case.

How Is Paraquat Utilized?

Paraquat is an herbicide commonly used on farms to stop the growth of weeds and grasses that are resistant to Roundup, another herbicide with its own legal concerns. Paraquat is sold under many brand names and is one of the most common herbicides used by farmers in the United States. 

  • It generally comes in a concentrated liquid form. Licensed professionals trained to handle the substance mix it with water and apply it by spraying the crops. It is widely used for keeping weeds out of fields, orchards, and vineyards. Common crops sprayed with paraquat include: Soybeans
  • Corn
  • Cotton
  • Wheat
  • Peanuts
  • Citrus fruit
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Almonds
  • Artichokes
  • Sweet potatoes

You may better know paraquat by one of its brand names, including Gramoxone, Firestorm, Helmquat, or Parazone.

What Do We Know About Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects movement and motor skills. The disease is progressive, although there are treatments that can help those living with the condition maintain a better quality of life. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, there is no cure.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include: 

  • Tremors
  • Difficulty walking because of an awkward gait
  • Rigid limbs
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression and other psychological concerns
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Poor sleep

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the causes of Parkinson’s disease are varied, and a combination of factors could play a role. This could include environmental factors, genetics, and factors not yet discovered. Examples include:

  • A known genetic cause in 10 to 20 percent of cases 
  • Exposure to herbicides, heavy metals, detergents, and other chemicals
  • Repeated head injuries

How Could You Be Exposed to Paraquat?

Most people participating in the paraquat lawsuits have a history of occupational exposure to herbicides. They worked on farms, either as growers or pickers, or certified applicators of herbicides. 

It is unlikely that most people unknowingly experienced high levels of paraquat exposure. This toxic chemical is classified as a restricted-use pesticide (RUP), which means you must have a special license to purchase, mix, and apply it. 

However, if you or a loved one falls into one of these categories and has a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, you may have a viable claim against the manufacturers.

Immediate Signs and Symptoms of Paraquat Exposure

While the ongoing litigation centers on whether paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease after long-term exposure, the effects of this toxic herbicide on the body after an acute exposure are well-known. Unintentional paraquat poisoning is rare in the United States, but it does happen. To reduce the risk, all liquid concentrate in the U.S. contains:

  • A note-worthy blue dye
  • A foul-smelling additive
  • An emetic so anyone who ingests it will begin vomiting

In addition, it is illegal to mix it in a food or beverage container-a concern that previously led to accidental poisonings. These safety features are vital because of how dangerous it can be to ingest paraquat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ingestion of the substance requires immediate emergency medical care. Those with significant exposure often pass away within 48 hours. 

Almost immediately, swelling and corrosive injuries begin to form on the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat. This can make it difficult to swallow or breathe. In addition, digestive complaints are common, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and more. More organs suffer injuries as time goes on, including the kidneys, liver, heart, and lungs. 

Treatment focuses on preventing the absorption, cleaning the blood with Continuous Venovenous Hemofiltration (CVVH) and a hemoperfusion charcoal filter, and managing other symptoms as they arise.

Long-Term Health Effects of Paraquat Exposure

When a person survives paraquat poisoning, they often live with the lasting effects of the experience. Damage is common and may be permanent in the lungs-where scarring can occur-the kidneys, or the liver. 

Long-term exposure to paraquat could also cause chronic injuries to organs. This includes pulmonary fibrosis, also known as “paraquat lung,” and other health hazards. Minimizing ingestion, inhalation, and other exposure to the chemical throughout your career is the best way to prevent related health concerns. 

Of course, Parkinson’s disease is also a long-term health effect that may occur due to paraquat exposure. It can begin as early as your 40s, but people generally show the initial symptoms around age 60. 

How You Can Protect Yourself and What You Should Do If You Are Exposed to Paraquat

If you work with paraquat and other herbicides, you must follow all prescribed safety rules. It is important to work in full personal protective equipment and wear a respirator. Pay careful attention to the containers you use to mix paraquat, reducing the risk that you might accidentally ingest it. 

If you do experience exposure, how you were exposed will dictate your actions: 

  • Skin exposure: Immediately change clothes and clean the chemical off your skin. If there was no contact with broken skin, monitor your body for any concerns. If there was contact with broken skin, see a doctor right away. 
  • Inhalation: Paraquat can cause significant damage to your lungs. You should consider discussing your exposure with a doctor. 
  • Ingestion: If you swallowed paraquat, you must get to your nearest hospital as soon as possible and report to the doctor that you ingested paraquat. This is a medical emergency.  

How Paraquat Exposure Is Treated in the Hospital

When a patient first presents with symptoms of paraquat ingestion, the initial concern is with preventing absorption and cleaning the blood. The less paraquat that remains in their system, the less potential harm there is to their vital organs. Actions could include:

  • Gastric lavage
  • Activated charcoal or similar substances
  • CVVH to filter their blood

Once they take all possible steps to reduce the volume of paraquat in the blood, the focus turns to managing worsening symptoms. 

It is not uncommon for organs to begin to fail due to paraquat poisoning. For example:

  • The kidneys may shut down.
  • Blood oxygenation levels could fall significantly.
  • Scans of the lungs may no longer look clear.
  • The heart may begin to fail.
  • There could be signs of liver failure.

Death generally occurs because of respiratory failure. Those who ingest significant quantities of the herbicide may pass away in a matter of days. Even those who survive often go home with lasting effects from their experience, such as:

  • Badly scarred lungs that do not exchange oxygen as well as they did
  • Kidney failure
  • Chronic heart failure  
  • Esophageal damage 

These conditions may require ongoing management and care and may lead to death later under some circumstances.

If you worked with paraquat and now have Parkinson’s disease, you may have a claim for compensation. A settlement or jury verdict may be possible in your case. Let an attorney assess the strength of your case against the herbicide manufacturers and determine your next steps. Fill out the contact form to get started. You could connect with a mass tort lawsuit lawyer today at no cost to you or your family.