Reading Time: 7 minutes

Have you been exposed to paraquat? The experienced legal team at Harlan Law is now accepting cases of paraquat users who have developed Parkinson’s disease nationwide. Call (619) 870-0802 now for your FREE consultation.

Paraquat (Gramoxone or paraquat dichloride) is a toxic chemical commonly used as a herbicide to kill weeds and control grass. Although paraquat was developed as a chemical over 100 years ago, it only became commonly used as a herbicide in 1961.

Since then, paraquat continues to be used around the world. But the chemical is so dangerous that the United States has restricted its use to commercially licensed users only. China began phasing out paraquat use in 2012 to safeguard the lives of agricultural workers. England and the European Union have included paraquat on their banned substances list since 2007.

Paraquat is so poisonous that in the U.S. the liquid form contains a blue dye, a sharp odor, and a vomiting agent in case someone swallows it. A single spoonful could kill the average person. If consumed, paraquat can quickly cause dramatic symptoms within hours to days including heart, kidney, or liver failure. If inhaled, it can cause lung scarring. Paraquat can even cause injury if it comes in contact with exposed skin during application.

And yet, the estimated agricultural application of paraquat doubled in the United States from 2013 to 2017, with 10,000,000 pounds of the chemical used every year over millions of acres of land across the country. Farmers had to find alternatives to crops that had become resistant to Monsanto’s popular Roundup after decades of use. Ironically, another reason for the increase of paraquat had to do with Roundup being linked to cancer.

Recently, low levels of paraquat exposure over time have been linked to Parkinson’s disease, putting farm and agricultural workers at risk of debilitating, degenerative, and lifelong injury. You could even be at risk if you live near a farm that uses the toxic chemical.

California uses the most paraquat compared to other states, with major agricultural regions in the Central Valley, Central Coast, and the Sacramento area. Nine out of the top 10 counties using paraquat are also located in California, including Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare Counties. Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Kansas, Indiana, Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Iowa round out the other top 10 states that use paraquat.

If you’ve been injured by paraquat or if a loved one has died from Parkinson’s disease as a result of long-term paraquat use, you could file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit for damages. A legal action can help you hold the manufacturers of this dangerous chemical responsible for the cost of your injuries and get the treatment you need for your health.

Does Paraquat Cause Parkinson’s Disease?

As paraquat application has increased, so has the rate of Parkinson’s disease diagnosed in the U.S. population. In fact, early-onset Parkinson’s disease saw a 107% increase in diagnoses between 2017 compared to 2013, when paraquat started replacing Roundup.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) completed the Farming and Movement Evaluation (FAME) study in 2011. According to its results, you are almost twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease if you’ve been exposed to paraquat or a similar herbicide such as rotenone. Another 2012 study found that people exposed to paraquat with a certain genetic variation had 11 times the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease compared to the general population.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently in the process of reviewing the effects of paraquat and deciding whether to further regulating the product.

The highest risk of paraquat exposure is occupational, affecting farm and agricultural workers who mix, load, or apply paraquat or post-process paraquat-sprayed crops. That includes:

  • Farm and field workers
  • Produce transporters
  • Agricultural inspectors
  • Herbicide mixers and sprayers

But even if you’re not a farm or agricultural worker, you can be exposed to the dangers of paraquat. A 2009 study found that living within 1600 feet of a facility that uses paraquat can increase your risk of Parkinson’s disease by 75%, especially when exposed at a younger age. You could have been exposed to paraquat without even realizing it.

What Are the Health Effects of Chronic Paraquat Exposure?

Paraquat is a fast-acting, rain-resistant, non-selective contact herbicide, which means it kills a wide range of plants. The chemical interferes with electron transfer, which is necessary for life to survive. Low-level, chronic exposure to paraquat can cause:

  • Pulmonary problems or lung scarring
  • Central nervous system and neurological tissue damage

Neurological damage includes “mitochondrial dysfunction” and “oxidative stress” as seen in Parkinson’s disease patients. Both of these problems lead to the loss of dopaminergic neurons – the parts of your brain that create and maintain dopamine. This affects your ability to control your motor movements and can even affect your personality.

Parkinson’s Disease as a Result of Paraquat Exposure

Parkinson’s disease is only second to Alzheimer’s as the most common neurodegenerative condition in the country. As the dopaminergic neurons in the brain degenerate, so do a person’s motor functions. This leaves the patient with physical challenges like:

  • Limb rigidity and tremors
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Extremely slow movements
  • Involuntary movement (dyskinesia)
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • Challenges typing or writing by hand

Those suffering from Parkinson’s disease can even experience non-motor symptoms, such as personality changes. Over time, the condition gets progressively worse, with disabling effects. You may have difficulty walking or communicating.

Despite being common, Parkinson’s disease has no established cause. Genetic factors can contribute to your risk for Parkinson’s disease, but only recent studies have shone a light on the possibility of environmental exposures like herbicides causing the condition.

Is There a Cure or Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease?

Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease has no cure and is degenerative, meaning it will get worse over time especially if untreated. Patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease often have low levels of dopamine and there’s no way to inject dopamine directly into the brain.

However, advances in medicine can help manage or even control some of your symptoms. But your treatment will likely have to be lifelong.

Treatment for Parkinson’s disease includes:

  • Medications to help manage or substitute the dopamine in your brain
  • Medications to manage specific symptoms such as tremors or rigidity
  • Exercise and physical therapy with a focus on balance and stretching
  • Speech-language therapy to help improve your speaking ability
  • Deep brain stimulation surgery to reduce your symptoms

A neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s can dramatically affect your life.

  • You may become unable to work or care for your basic physical needs without help.
  • The treatments you need could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
  • You may need a full-time caretaker or family member to look after you.
  • You may become unable to enjoy certain activities because of your disability.
  • You may suffer daily pain, discomfort, or emotional distress due to your condition.

If you’ve worked around paraquat for any period of time, you may have developed Parkinson’s disease as a result. If paraquat caused your Parkinson’s disease, the person responsible for this dangerous product should also be responsible for your injuries.

A personal injury lawsuit can help you get the medical treatment you need and hold the responsible party to account for monetary damages.

Do You Qualify for a Paraquat Lawsuit?

Paraquat is manufactured by Syngenta, Growmark, and the Chevron Chemical Company. The first lawsuits were filed in 2017 by agricultural workers and farmers who got exposed to paraquat on the job and went on to develop Parkinson’s disease.

Among other claims, the lawsuits state that:

  • Manufacturers knew the link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease for years,
  • The makers of paraquat failed to disclose or properly warn users about the risks, and
  • The workers wouldn’t have used the product if they’d known about the dangers.

The claims of the lawsuit are based on:

  • Strict products liability – The manufacturers of paraquat created a defective product and failed to warn users about the dangers to their health.
  • Negligence – The companies had a responsibility to protect paraquat users. They knew or should have realized the neurological risks through adequate testing and they failed to remedy the risks or warn users against them.
  • Public nuisance – The creators of paraquat knew or should have known that it would cause harm to the public if used without the proper warnings.
  • Breach of implied warranty of merchantability – Paraquat as a product is not actually fit to be used as instructed because of the health risks.

Since then, paraquat lawsuits have been filed in several other states. A number of claims filed in California also argue that paraquat manufacturers violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act – even though they knew about the risks, they used unfair business practices to conceal, suppress, or omit research and testing from consumers.

As the link between paraquat and Parkinson’s becomes increasingly apparent and more cases come forth, hundreds of additional lawsuits could be filed in the next few years.

With a products liability case of this scale, these individual cases may come together to form a class action or multi-district litigation (MDL) case. A class action or MDL could result in a global settlement in the billions of dollars to be distributed among the class members.

How to Tell If You Have a Paraquat Lawsuit

The best and only way to find out if you have a paraquat lawsuit is to talk to a personal injury lawyer about your situation as soon as possible.

When it comes to personal injury lawsuits, you don’t want to delay. The statute of limitations limits the time you have to file a lawsuit before you lose your chance forever.

Your consultation is free when you contact Harlan Law about your paraquat case. You’ll talk to our knowledgeable and passionate legal team about the specific facts of your situation, such as:

  • How long and in what capacity you used paraquat
  • When you developed symptoms and what they look like
  • How your symptoms have affected your life and career
  • Whether you’ve received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease

We’ll tell you if you have a good case against the makers of paraquat. Everyone deserves proper representation, which is why we take paraquat cases on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay us any legal fees until we recover monetary damages for you.

What Types of Damages Can You Get in a Paraquat Lawsuit?

A paraquat lawsuit can help you recover damages to make up for the injuries you’ve suffered. Personal injury lawsuits can reward economic and non-economic damages. That includes:

  • Past and future medical bills based on the treatment you need
  • Lost income and wages as a result of being unable to work for any period of time
  • Pain and suffering and loss of consortium caused by your disability or condition
  • Funeral expenses if you’ve lost a loved one because of paraquat

A Parkinson’s disease diagnosis comes with significant costs. A civil lawsuit is the best way to “make you whole” under the law as if you were never exposed to paraquat. While monetary compensation cannot undo your diagnosis or disease, it can help you get the treatment you need so that you can take care of your health and live your life to the fullest.

Corporations that put dangerous products onto the market need to be held responsible for the damage and injuries that they cause. In the case of intentional, reckless, or malicious behavior, a court may even award punitive damages, which are meant to punish bad actors and discourage others from following their example.

At Harlan Law, we’re no stranger to the risks of popular herbicides and pesticides. You deserve to complete your work safely without the risk of disease or death. Farm and agricultural workers feed the rest of the country. They are the backbone of our workforce and should be protected. If you’ve worked with paraquat and you’ve developed Parkinson’s disease as a result, call the offices of Harlan Law today at (619) 870-0802 for your free consultation.