The most recent research shows that persons exposed to pesticides, especially the most commonly used herbicide for weed and grass control in the world, paraquat, are at a higher risk of suffering complications like Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is among the most prevalent neurological disorders that affect the central nervous system, resulting in tremors, shaking, stiffness, balance, and coordination challenges.
Among those who are likely to develop the disease include farmers, herbicide applicators, farmers and their farm employees, chemical mixers, tank fillers, and the residents of areas close to where the chemical is sprayed. Individuals whose families and loved ones have died or are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease due to environmental or occupational exposure to paraquat can file a lawsuit to recover compensation with the help of an experienced injury attorney.
At Consumer Alert Now, we are here to help you recover compensation by explaining to you the meaning of paraquat, the problem with herbicide, its side effects, and how to file a paraquat lawsuit to seek compensation from the manufacturers of the toxic herbicide.
Overview of Paraquat
Paraquat dichloride (commonly referred to as paraquat) is a highly toxic chemical used nationwide for invasive grass and weed control. The herbicide, which has severally been associated with Parkinson's diseases, has been in the market for commercially licensed users for 60 years now. The herbicide is available in liquid form with a blue dye so that people don’t confuse it for consumable beverages. It is marketed with the color and sharp odor as a warning that it’s highly poisonous. It also contains extra agents to cause vomiting, in case someone drinks it.
As concerns about the chemical’s toxicity continue growing, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently classified it as restricted use, meaning it’s only for use by licensed applicators who have completed paraquat-specific training. Despite the training on how to handle the pesticide, you are still at risk of suffering complications for being routinely exposed to it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can be exposed to paraquat in many ways. Some of these ways include:
- It can easily mix with food, beverages, and water, so people might not know what they are consuming is contaminated. The risk of pesticide consumption is reduced by adding safeguarding additives like odor, blue color, and agents to cause vomiting, making it easy to know when consuming is contaminated.
- Skin exposure. In case exposure to the pesticide lasts long, the involved paraquat is concentrated, and your skin has cuts, sores, or severe rashes, poisoning can happen.
- Inhalation cause lung poisoning, leading to severe damage
It’s worth noting that paraquat is not used for terrorist attacks and that those who have been licensed are at a higher risk of exposure. Accidental exposure and swallowing have been associated with around two thousand deaths in the last 60 years.
Immediate Signs and Symptoms of Paraquat Exposure
When you swallow a significant amount of paraquat, the signs of illness will show right away. Some of the side effects you will experience immediately are pain and swelling of the mouth and throat. Afterward, you might experience gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Severe digestive tract symptoms can cause dehydration, shortage of sodium and potassium in the body, and low blood pressure.
Note that the symptoms will not manifest right away when you swallow the toxic chemical in small amounts. Instead, adverse effects of ingestion will start to show within days or weeks. These side effects include liver failure, kidney failure, heart failure, and lung damages.
By and large, swallowing vast amounts of paraquat can result in the following signs with hours or days:
- Breathing failure may result in death
- Liver failure
- Fluid in the lungs also called pulmonary edema
- Lung scarring
- Fast heart rate
- Muscle weakness
- Acute kidney failure
Remember that experiencing these signs and symptoms doesn’t always mean you have been exposed to paraquat. They could be signs of other illnesses.
Long-Term Health Effects of Paraquat Exposure
If you are lucky to survive paraquat poisoning for a long time, you will likely suffer lung damage. Esophageal strictures, kidney failure, and heart failure are other long-term effects of ingesting this pesticide. After significant ingestion of the pesticide, chances of survival are minimal, which explains why many people have been using the toxic pesticide to commit suicide.
Protecting yourself and Actions to Take after Paraquat Exposure
Swallowing paraquat is the primary route of exposure, and in case you suspect poisoning, you should avoid further ingestion and seek medical treatment right away. Before reaching the hospital, you will need emergency medical care services like oral administration of activated charcoal or Fuller’s earth to secure the swallowed pesticide.
If you suspect it’s your clothes or body that have been exposed to liquid paraquat, quickly take off the clothing and wash your body thoroughly using soap and water. Once you have done this, you can go for a medical examination. Note that when removing your clothes that require to be pulled over the head, you should cut them off instead of pulling them over the bed because it will lead to additional exposure.
When helping someone take off contaminated clothing, you should be fast and avoid touching the polluted areas.
On the issue of washing your body, use large amounts of water and soap to clean the areas liquid paraquat has been in contact with your body. If the contact was in the eyes, rinse your eyes with clean water for between ten to fifteen minutes. If you are wearing eye contact, take them off and don’t put them back on. They should be placed together with the contaminated clothes for disposal. With eyeglasses, you should clean them up with enough soap and water, then put them back on.
Once your body is clean and the contaminated clothes are inside a plastic bag, the next step is to dispose of them. Avoid touching the bag’s polluted areas, and if you can’t do that, use tongs, sticks, handles, or wear rubber gloves. Seal the bag and place it inside another bag for safe disposal to not touch the contaminated areas. After, you should contact the local emergency personnel for further disposal.
Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease
Based on various studies, there is sufficient evidence that links paraquat exposure or poisoning to the increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. The disease affects the nervous system by progressively killing brain cells, causing a reduction in dopamine levels leading to symptoms like difficulties in swallowing and breathing, impaired posture and balance, tremors, and rigidity.
The findings by various studies show that when brain cells die after poisoning, they allow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. The earliest study showed possible neurological effects of paraquat exposure in the 1980s, using a heroin contaminant called MPTP, which shares the same chemical composition as paraquat. The experiment’s findings showed MPTP causes a reduction in dopamine neurons, which are damaged after paraquat exposure.
An additional study published by the Journal Nature Chemical Biology in 2017 shows that paraquat exposure generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) that cause brain cells’ death through a process called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the generation of ROS and your body’s ability to counteract or repair these adverse effects. Oxidative stress in human beings is associated with the development of Parkinson’s disease.
In an earlier study conducted in 2011, researchers discovered that farmers who used this pesticide or other pesticides with similar structures were 250% likely to develop Parkinson's disease than non-users.
Furthermore, there is proof of increased risk of developing Parkinson's among people living near farmlands or areas where paraquat is sprayed. These families are exposed to paraquat through inhaling the contaminated air, allowing paraquat to travel to the brain, killing brain cells.
The most recent study published in December 2020 by the Toxicological sciences journal shows that exposure to low levels of the toxic chemical through inhalation may lead to translocation of the pesticide to the brain. Researchers found that accumulation of the pesticide in the brain causes olfactory impairment, an early or prodromal trajectory of Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers concluded a need to protect public health by establishing protective regulations for neurotoxic pesticide application.
Despite these alarming findings by researchers, some of which date back to decades, it is only in 2016 that EPA announced its plans to conduct an in-depth statistical analysis of the possible health complications of paraquat exposure, including its connection or association with Parkinson’s disease. Unluckily, the agency still has up to October 2022 to decide on paraquat applications.
Meanwhile, the pesticide is still widely used in the country, and Syngenta, the pesticide manufacturer, continues to deny the association of the herbicide and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, individuals who have been exposed to paraquat and subsequently developed Parkinson’s disorder are filing lawsuits against the makers of these pesticides.
Examples of Lawsuits Filed Against Paraquat Makers After Parkinson’s Diagnosis
In February 2021, an Illinois man James Hemker and his wife, Judith, in a recently filed lawsuit alleging that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after routine and lengthy paraquat application. The claim was filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois against Syngenta and Chevron for the production and sale of paraquat-based invasive weed and grass control commonly used nationwide.
Paraquat has been in use for decades, although there are known health risks linked with the pesticide. While many have banned using this pesticide, it is still widely used and sold in the United States up to date, but licensed applicators only. Many lawsuits against the pesticide makers are now alleging that the manufacturers were aware of the health risks posed and failed to warn users adequately. The only warning and safety instructions on the pesticide focus on poisoning, demonstrating that the makers knew or should have known about its risks.
James worked on farms in Clinton and Bond County with his father and brother in the 1960s as a young boy, during which he was exposed to paraquat. The exposure continued into the early 1980s when he started working with alfalfa, corn, soybean, and wheat farms, where he used to mix the pesticide, load, and use spreader trucks to spray it on crops.
From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, Hemker was repeatedly exposed to, swallowed, inhaled, and absorbed paraquat while performing his duties in these farmlands. All this time, the plaintiff didn’t know or expect that exposure to paraquat would cause a reduction in polyamine levels causing neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
After the plaintiff was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008, he filed a claim alleging defective design, public nuisance, failure to adequately warn, breach of warranty, deceptive business practices, and consumer fraud by the two manufacturers of the pesticide. On the other hand, the wife has filed a claim for loss of services and consortium resulting from the husband’s disease.
Allegations you can Raise in your Paraquat Lawsuit
If you have suffered injuries because of paraquat exposure, you can file a suit against the makers of the herbicide, alleging that:
- They failed to adequately research the connection between the pesticide and Parkinson’s disease.
- They failed to sufficiently warn the public against paraquat exposure increasing the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
- They failed to see that farmworkers at risk of exposure to paraquat in the field obtained the necessary protection against the pesticide’s possible side effects.
- They failed to warn residents near farmlands or areas where paraquat is sprayed about the health effects of inhaling the herbicide in the air.
- Misrepresentation of the pesticides side effects
- Negligence due to disregarding potential health risks of the pesticides
Paraquat Mass Torts
Many farmers in the United States go for paraquat to kill grass and weed in their farms because of its effectiveness. Unfortunately, the health risks associated with the pesticides are left with severe injuries or even death after developing Parkinson’s disease. The pesticide has affected hundreds of people, leaving them with Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. If you are a paraquat victim, you can take legal action as a group known as a mass tort.
A mass tort is defined as a civil wrong committed by an organization or an individual that causes harm, financial loss, emotional distress, and damages. The person filing the claim is the plaintiff, while the defendant is known as the tortfeasor and is usually responsible for the harm. These claims are mainly based on negligence and are filed.
Despite the rigorous testing conducted on herbicides before being released in the market, highly toxic pesticides like paraquat have found themselves in the market, causing severe health complications or even death. If it is confirmed that the pesticide maker was aware of the pesticide’s dangerous side effects but still released it to the market without adequate warning, the company will be responsible for the harm caused.
People exposed to paraquat can suffer other health complications apart from Parkison’s disease, which originated from the exposure. Instead of each of these individuals filing lawsuits separately, a mass tort ensures all the plaintiffs file one suit saving time and resources.
Before a court allows for the formation of a mass tort, they must consider the following:
- The number of claimants involved
- The geographical location of the plaintiff
- The kind and similarity of injuries in question
- Whether the claims are associated with a similar cause
If a judge concludes that the case meets the criteria for a mass tort, the patient will be assigned a judge to hear the matter. After, a notice of the lawsuit should be published to all media outlets so that others that have been injured by a product and, in this case, paraquat, can join the lawsuit.
How Mass Torts Compare with Class Actions
Mass torts and class actions share some similarities. Both lawsuits involve large groups of individuals who have suffered harm, the harm was from a common cause, and the suit is consolidated to form one action.
However, mass torts involve a distinct group of persons who might reside in the exact location. Most of the cases that join these lawsuits suffer different conditions, meaning these cases are heard individually. It means that your claim’s specific facts will be investigated separately and how the tortfeasor’s actions affected your case. Also, the number of individuals joining a mass tort is less than those in a class action.
On the other end, a class action involves a larger group than in a mass tort. The group is known as a class and represented by a class representative making the class deemed one individual. The case is heard as one, and the damages awarded are distributed among the class members. Also, the evidence in one case can be transferred to another.
Elements of a Viable Mass Tort Claim
A mass tort is very similar to a personal injury claim. Manufacturers of herbicides must exercise reasonable care during the design, production, and sale of the pesticide. If the duty is violated and results in harm to the consumer, the same elements will apply in a mass tort claim.
Compensation in Mass Torts
The variance in the degree of compensation results in how compensation is distributed because mass torts involve multiple plaintiffs. The criteria used in mass torts are very different from class actions because, in a class action, a class representative files the lawsuit and provides evidence on behalf of the class. The defendant receives a lump sum that is distributed among the members after deduction of legal fees. Even if you suffered severe injuries, the amount received as compensation might not be adequate to cover all your damages.
However, in mass tort, you are considered an individual, and your case is tried separately, which makes these lawsuits last for years before the conclusion. Each plaintiff presents their evidence meaning compensation varies from one individual to another. You can only pursue compensation based on the damages resulting from your harm and, in this case, Parkinson’s disease or other neurodegenerative conditions arising from paraquat exposure.
Remember that although compensation differs in these claims, attorneys handling these cases might share evidence for evidence support and case consolidation.
Determining the Amount of Compensation in Paraquat Mass Tort
Mass tort claims are mainly negotiated on an aggregate instead of an individual basis. Other times, the involved parties might agree on the settlement procedure where medical experts examine records and decide if a plaintiff is eligible for the criteria. Mass torts level the playing ground by ensuring victims of a large company’s negligence can seek just and fair compensation, independent of financial capabilities and social-economic status.
Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s or other related conditions and afraid of suing prominent manufacturers, a mass tort can help you compensate for your harm.
Damages Present in Paraquat Mass Tort
Obtaining an exceptional amount of compensation from a large corporate isn’t a cakewalk. They have the resources and best injury attorneys and will find ways to deny liability. Luckily, if you are adequately represented in a mass tort, you can obtain the compensation you deserve for your harm. The damages available in these lawsuits include:
- Loss of earning capabilities and work time
- The impact of Parkinson’s on your relationship
- Medical costs involved in treating your condition, both current and future
- Mental and emotional distress stressing from the illness
- Long-term care
Note that even after you have won the case, it will take time to receive the settlement. The payment must be resolved first, like subrogation and government liens that the parties must take to resolve before receiving compensation.
Find a Paraquat Mass Tort Lawsuit Near Me
At Consumer Alert Now, we strive to educate the public on dangerous drugs and defective devices to understand their legal options when they develop medical conditions or sustain injuries. We can also help you with a mass tort by linking you up with attorneys specializing in this field. Contact us today at 800-511-0747 to further discuss your case and how to join a paraquat mass tort.