Can I Sue the Makers of Paraquat for My Parkinson’s?

Two hands holding pens next to a legal document

If you were exposed to Paraquat and then developed Parkinson’s disease (PD), you might have grounds for a lawsuit.  

There are currently more than 600 lawsuits that are part of a class action, along with an estimated 75 suits pending in state court. An initial ruling in the class action suit in February 2022 allows plaintiffs to move forward to trial.

Anyone who developed Parkinson’s disease after exposure may be eligible to file a claim, but it depends on the specifics of your case. You’ll need an experienced attorney to evaluate the details of your claim and help you decide whether to proceed. Here is some general information you should know before contacting a lawyer.

What Is Paraquat?

Sold under several different brand names, but most commonly Gramaxone in the United States, Paraquat is a commercial weed killer and herbicide. It’s been on the market since 1962, but Roundup became more popular after its introduction in the 1970s. After a series of high-profile Roundup lawsuits, though, many people switched to Paraquat. However, the product has proven to be anything but safe.

Paraquat is banned in 32 countries, including the entire European Union, due to concerns about both immediate toxicity and long-term health risks. But it is commonly used in the United States and was just reauthorized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2020. It’s restricted in the U.S., which means that it can only be used by, or under the supervision of, a licensed applicator. But Paraquat is so widely used that it’s easy to be exposed.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Most famously battled publicly by actor Michael J. Fox, Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder. It’s incurable, although there are treatments to help ease symptoms. Depending on the stage and severity, you may experience such symptoms as:

  • Tremors
  • Stiff muscles
  • Inability to blink or perform other automatic movements
  • Trouble with speaking or writing
  • Slowed movement or inability to control movement
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Sleep issues
  • Problems with the bladder or bowel

There is strong scientific evidence of a link between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease. The Parkinson’s Foundation notes that along with a pesticide known as Rotenone, animal research into Parkinson’s disease often uses Paraquat to induce the disease. The American Parkinson Disease Association reports that repeated studies show increased risks for Parkinson’s following exposure to several chemicals, with Paraquat among the most dangerous. They say you may be three times more likely than the general public to develop Parkinson’s disease if you have ever been exposed to Paraquat.

Who Is Most Likely to Have a Strong Case?

Because you will need to be able to prove that you were exposed to Paraquat, your case may be stronger if you fall into one of a few groups. These include:

  • Certified Paraquat applicators
  • Farmers
  • Landscapers
  • Agricultural workers such as growers and pickers
  • People living on or near farms
  • Anyone who routinely works with or around commercial pesticides

However, you may still have a case even if you aren’t a member of any of these groups. If you believe you were exposed elsewhere, such as a wildlife refuge or local green space, you may be able to gather documentation that shows that Paraquat was used there. Your attorney can assess the facts, do some research, and help determine whether you have a case.

Why File a Lawsuit?

The main reason to file any lawsuit is to receive the compensation you deserve. Parkinson’s disease is an incurable, progressive condition. You might incur significant costs for medical treatments, including frequent doctor visits and monthly medications. You may not be able to do the same work that you did before, and you may eventually be unable to work at all. You might also suffer from a diminished quality of life. It’s only right that if your condition was caused by someone else’s negligence, that you should be compensated for your losses.

However, there are also other reasons to file a lawsuit in this type of case. Besides compensation, two of the main reasons that many people decide to sue are:

  • Raising public awareness
  • Holding the manufacturer accountable

What Types of Compensation Could I Receive?

Every case is different, so your compensation could be entirely different from someone else’s. In general, though, the types of compensation in a Paraquat lawsuit might include:

  • Past, present, and future medical bills related to your Parkinson’s including medications and therapies
  • Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages, which are designed to punish the manufacturer for negligence

Note that there is already a class-action suit in the works. Depending on how things play out in the future, your case may be rolled into that suit. If that happens, there could be an overall settlement in which each plaintiff receives an agreed-upon amount of compensation. However, it is way too early in the process to know if this is the most likely route.

How Can I Get Started?

Proving your claim can be difficult, even if you ultimately become a member of the class action. It is extremely important to work with a skilled attorney who understands these types of cases and knows how to guide you through the process. Your attorney will be by your side every step of the way, from gathering the documentation that proves your exposure to Paraquat to helping you determine the future losses you might incur as a result of your Parkinson’s disease.

The first step is to evaluate your claim and make a determination about whether filing a lawsuit is the right course of action for you. Simply gather as much evidence as you currently have, including a written copy of your Parkinson’s diagnosis and any documentation you have regarding your Paraquat exposure, and submit it for a free evaluation.

At Cooney & Conway, we have the experience and compassion to guide you through the process of receiving compensation for your Paraquat-related Parkinson’s diagnosis. To get started, fill out our free case evaluation today.