Lawsuit claims man's Parkinson's disease caused by paraquat

Jul 7


Jeffrey Nadrich

Jeffrey Nadrich

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The lawsuit argues the defendants knew or should have known paraquat could cause the disease but didn't warn about it.


A lawsuit filed in federal court in Louisiana on June 3 alleges that exposure to the common herbicide paraquat caused a Louisiana man to develop Parkinson’s disease. Paraquat manufacturers Syngenta and Chevron are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The plaintiff,Lawsuit claims man's Parkinson's disease caused by paraquat Articles according to the complaint, was repeatedly exposed to products containing paraquat, including Gramaxone, from 1980 to 1998, while working on his father’s farm and later working for the Parish of Lafourche as a dragline operator who would spray about 200 acres with the herbicide. The plaintiff would mix paraquat in tanks and spray them on water lilies and other vegetation, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2020, according to the complaint, but had shown symptoms of the disease “years earlier.” The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff’s neurological injuries “have continued and progressed over time.”

Paraquat Exposure

The lawsuit argues that the defendants knew or should have known that those who use paraquat properly and as intended, as well as those who are nearby when paraquat is used properly and as intended, are likely to absorb paraquat into their bodies through reasonably foreseeable exposure, and that this exposure would likely cause Parkinson’s disease. The complaint claims the defendants failed to warn about this risk even though they knew or should have known about it.

The complaint argues that several forms of exposure to paraquat were likely and foreseeable when it was used correctly.

The lawsuit argues that exposure to paraquat is likely and foreseeable for those who mix and load it into equipment, those who clean or empty equipment, and those nearby when these events occur, due to leaks, splashes and spills. The complaint also argues that additional, likely and foreseeable methods of paraquat exposure include the herbicide drifting in the wind, as well as contact with sprayed plants.

The complaint argues these exposure methods are foreseeable and likely to cause paraquat to be absorbed or ingested via the skin, nose, mouth and lungs, and that once inside the body it is foreseeable and likely that paraquat will cause Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s Disease And Paraquat

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive brain disease which mostly affects the motor system, which is responsible for controlling our movement. The primary symptoms of the disease are shaking, slow movements and reflexes, stiffness, and poor balance. The disease has no cure and no treatment can reverse or stop its progression, according to the lawsuit, and treatments tend to become less effective and more harmful over time.

The disease, according to the complaint, can be caused by the death of dopaminergic neurons, which produce dopamine, which is critical to our brain’s motor control. These neurons do not grow back when they die, so when enough of them die, according to the lawsuit, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are the result.

These neurons are “particularly susceptible” to being killed by oxidative stress, according to the complaint. Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance of the production and accumulation of reactive oxygen species.

Paraquat, according to the complaint, can cause oxidative stress in plant and animal cells. The lawsuit argues it does this because of its high redox potential, which leads to redox cycling that creates a reactive oxygen species called superoxide radical. Science has known about this redox potential of paraquat’s since at least the 1930’s, according to the lawsuit, which argues that the defendants should have and did know about this potential.

Superoxide radical, according to the complaint, can initiate a never-ending chain of chemical reactions which creates further reactive oxygen species. This chain of chemical reactions, according to the lawsuit, continues to kill dopaminergic neurons for as long as the victim lives, eventually causing Parkinson’s disease and a worsening of the disease symptoms over time.

The lawsuit notes that scientists give animals paraquat to intentionally induce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in the animals, for the purpose of studying the symptoms. The complaint also notes that hundreds of in vitro and animal studies have found that paraquat kills dopaminergic neurons.

Multiple epidemiological studies have linked paraquat with Parkinson’s disease in humans, according to the complaint. The complaint notes a 2009 study which suggested a relationship between Parkinson’s disease and consuming well water contaminated with pesticides. The lawsuit also notes a 2011 study which suggested that paraquat plays a role in Parkinson’s disease in humans, and a 2017 study which associated paraquat with the disease.

Paraquat, according to the complaint, has been banned in over 55 countries.

Lawsuit Makes Multiple Accusations

The complaint accuses the defendants of negligence, arguing the defendants had a duty to act with reasonable care when designing, testing, manufacturing, marketing and selling paraquat, and that they failed this duty. The complaint accuses the defendants of failing to adequately test paraquat before selling it and failing to warn the public about long-established science relating to paraquat’s toxicity, arguing that a reasonably careful entity would have properly tested the product and properly warned about the product’s well-known dangers.

The complaint alleges that paraquat is a defective product because it is unreasonably dangerous when used as intended, and that its risks outweigh its benefits.

The lawsuit seeks to recover damages based on inadequate warning, arguing the defendants knew or should have known paraquat could cause Parkinson’s disease when used correctly but failed to warn about it.

The complaint looks to recover damages based on non-conformity to express warranty, arguing the defendants expressly warranted that paraquat was safe when used correctly when it, in fact, is not.

For more information on lawsuits involving Parkinson’s disease being caused by paraquat exposure, visit Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers.