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How Much Compensation Can You Get for a Paraquat Lawsuit?

Recent studies have established that prolonged use or exposure to the industrial herbicide paraquat (Grameoxone) can lead to the development of early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Now thousands of agriculture workers are filing paraquat lawsuits alleging that they developed Parkinson’s due to occupational exposure to paraquat.

The paraquat cases have been consolidated into a “class action” MDL which should eventually results in a global settlement with payments to all claimants. This post will look at how much settlement compensation paraquat plaintiffs might reasonably expect to get.

Related Paraquat Posts

Paraquat Lawsuit Updates

April 2023:  As the first Paraquat trial looms, the defense lawyers try to strike a key expert witness proffered by the plaintiffs. Syngenta’s counsel seeks to preclude testimony from Martin Wells, an expert statistician for the plaintiffs who specializes in the field of biostatistics.

Wells conducted a rigorous “meta-analysis” amalgamating disparate epidemiological studies and found a nexus between Parkinson’s disease and Paraquat. Syngenta claim Wells’ methodological approach was marred by bias and the studies were biased.  Don’t bet on as he ostensibly cherry-picked studies to buttress his deductions. Don’t bet on the defendant’s on this one. 

February 2023: This month is all about the ongoing fight for critical documents from scientific consulting company Exponent Inc. The plaintiffs are trying to obtain these documents as part of their case against Syngenta for the potential safety hazards of Paraquat. And the pushback from Syngenta and Exponent is a sign that these documents could be a game changer!

Or… it could just be defense lawyers being reflexively obstructionist because that is who they are.  I defended mass tort cases and that is how we approached everything.  So we will see what we see from Exponent.  

January 2022: The EPA is reconsidering the risk-benefit analysis of Paraquat. This could have enormous implications for the Paraquat lawsuits.

December 2022: The recent study published in December 2022 has revealed that Paraquat poisoning can cause organ damage, including acute kidney injury, and chronic exposure can lead to chronic renal disease. It really is time for the world to wake up to the harmful effects of this pesticide.  I think juries will provide that wakeup if the defendants are foolish enough to let one of these lawsuits go to trial.  

June 2022: As of June 15, the total number of pending cases in the Paraqauat MDL is up to 1,292, which means the volume of new filings has slowed down somewhat. The Paraquat MDL judge issued a Second Amended Discovery Schedule granting a very short extension of the original discovery deadlines for the 6 cases that will serve as the opening bellwether test trials. The parties in these cases will have until July 25, 2022, to complete their discovery. The high number of fact witnesses made the extension necessary. Still, the short duration of the extension is a clear indication that the MDL judge has every intention of keeping to the existing schedule for the start of the first bellwether trial.  

May 2022: A pool of 16 initial bellwether plaintiffs have been selected from the larger group of pending Paraquat cases. Half were picked by the defense, and the other half were selections made by the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Now both sides will get a chance to do fact discovery in these 16 cases, which will involve depositions of the plaintiffs and their family members as well as expert witness discovery.

Meanwhile, a significant development in the Roundup litigation could have a positive impact on the outcome of the Paraquat lawsuits. In Roundup, Bayer had been pursuing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing preemption under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”). This appeal would have effectively ended the Roundup cancer lawsuits and had a similar impact on the Paraquat cases. In November last year, the SCOTUS balked at deciding whether to grant cert and invited the Biden administration to weigh in on the issues. This prompted many to speculate that the Court may actually hear the appeal and, even worse, rule in Bayer’s favor. But this month, the Biden administration filed a brief urging the Court to reject Bayer’s arguments under FIFRA. This development virtually guarantees that the appeal will not be heard.

April 2022: Between March 1st and April 15th, 294 new Paraquat lawsuits were transferred into or filed directly in the Paraquat MDL. This marks the highest volume period for new Paraquat lawsuits since the start of the litigation and brings the total number of pending cases in the MDL up to 982. It is not entirely clear what prompted this sudden spike in the volume of new Paraquat cases, but some may have to do with lawyers filing large groups of cases all at once. It could also reflect the growing awareness of the link between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. 

Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuits

Paraquat is a powerful herbicide that has been around for 50 years and has been widely used in commercial agriculture in the U.S., often under the brand name Gramoxone. Paraquat is a highly poisonous chemical; ingesting even a small amount can be fatal. This toxicity has prompted countries throughout Europe and the rest of the world to ban the use of paraquat entirely. Paraquat is not banned in the U.S., but only licensed applicators (commercial farmers) can purchase it.

Over the last several years, new scientific research has determined that long-term use or exposure to paraquat can cause individuals to develop early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Several clinical studies have found that farm workers exposed to paraquat over many years have notably higher rates of Parkinson’s disease. Higher rates of Parkinson’s disease have also been reported in people who live near commercial farms where paraquat is applied.

paraquat lawsuit

Paraquat is made by the Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta. It is alleged that Syngenta knew about the possible link between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease but deliberately ignored it. Now farm workers diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after occupational exposure to paraquat are filing product liability lawsuits against Syngenta and its U.S. distributors.

Several hundred paraquat Parkinson’s disease lawsuits have already been filed and consolidated into a new Paraquat MDL (Paraquat Prod. Liab. Lit., MDL 3004) in the Southern District of Illinois. The paraquat litigation is still in its early stages and is expected to proliferate as hundreds and thousands of additional cases get filed.

Studies on Paraquat and Parkinson’s

The science on Paraquat and Parkinson’s is both strong and old:

  • Tanner et al. (2011): This study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that exposure to Paraquat and another pesticide, maneb, significantly increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The study focused on individuals living in California’s Central Valley and suggested that combined exposure to these two pesticides could increase the risk of Parkinson’s by up to 75%.
  • Wang et al. (2011): This study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, analyzed data from over 110,000 participants in the Agricultural Health Study. The researchers found that individuals exposed to Paraquat had a 2.5 times greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to those who were not exposed.
  • Liou et al. (1997): This study, published in the journal Nature, demonstrated a potential mechanism for the link between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. The researchers found that Paraquat can cause oxidative stress and damage to cells in a manner similar to the processes that lead to Parkinson’s disease.
  • Dinis-Oliveira et al. (2006): This study, published in the journal Toxicology, further explored the potential mechanisms behind the link between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. The authors reported that Paraquat can induce the formation of reactive oxygen species, which can lead to oxidative stress and cell damage, contributing to the development of Parkinson’s.

Will There Be a Paraquat Settlement?

There are already hundreds of paraquat lawsuits pending and consolidated into an MDL. When product liability cases are filed in large numbers and consolidated like this, they typically follow a similar pattern. Over the next year, the judge in the Paraquat MDL will preside over a consolidated discovery process that will focus on the scientific evidence for both sides. Meanwhile, new paraquat cases will continue to get filed and added to the MDL.

Once the consolidated paraquat discovery phase is over, a small handful of paraquat cases will be selected and sent for jury trials. These are called “bellwether trials,” designed to give parties on both sides of the litigation an idea of what they could expect if all of the cases went to trial. The results of bellwether trials generally shape the framework of subsequent settlement negotiations.

If the initial bellwether test trials result in significant victories for the plaintiffs, Syngenta may be forced to agree to pay a large amount of money to settle the remaining paraquat claims.

How Much Will Paraquat Plaintiffs Get in a Global Settlement?

The class action Paraquat lawsuit is just getting started, and so far, there have not been any verdicts or settlements in a Paraquat product liability case. This makes it impossible to say for sure exactly how much compensation paraquat plaintiffs can expect to get. There are at least two significant variables that will have a big impact on the amount of compensation paraquat claimants can expect to receive: (1) the strength of the scientific causation evidence and (2) the results of the initial bellwether trials.

Notwithstanding all the variables, we can make an educated guess about how much Paraquat plaintiffs can reasonably expect to get in settlement compensation by looking at settlement amounts in similar mass tort cases. We can also look at compensation awarded for Parkinson’s disease in prior tort cases. Based on these factors, we think that the likely settlement payout on paraquat claims will be as follows:

Settlement Tier                                             Estimated Settlement

Tier I                                                               $400,000 – $1,000,000

Tier II                                                              $150,000 – $300,000

Tier III                                                             $20,000 – $150,000

These estimates are ranked into tiers because most mass tort settlements involve a tiered system in which each plaintiff is ranked according to the severity of their injuries (and other factors). Plaintiffs in the top tier get higher payouts, while plaintiffs in the lower tiers get less.

This Paraquat settlement amount estimate was first made six months ago.  The Paraquat class action lawsuit is going well for the plaintiffs.  So, if anything,  these settlement compensation estimates are on the low side in February 2023.

Compensation Payouts for Paraquat at Trial

A jury trial is a whole different ballgame. A verdict in a Parkinson’s case would likely be millions of dollars, maybe in the tens of millions if the jury is, as we expect, angered by what they hear. So why not wait and take your case to trial? That is a real option. But few of these cases will go to trial.  First, going to trial in a Parkinson’s case will be a high-stakes gamble. Your lawyers have less risk because they have many cases – you have just one.  Also, getting a trial date will take time if there is a global settlement. A lot of time… it may be worth it to you to wait for a trial date. But, historically, most plaintiffs join in a global settlement.

Contact a Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawyer Today

If you worked on a farm where paraquat was used or lived near a farm where paraquat was used, and you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may be able to file a paraquat lawsuit and receive financial compensation. Contact our paraquat lawyers today to see if you have a case. Contact us online or by phone at 888-322-3010.