The consolidation of lawsuits regarding paraquat, a herbicide which purportedly causes Parkinson’s disease, into the Southern District of Illinois led to a second spike in lawsuits filed against Syngenta and Chevron, the most common defendants on the cases in the Multidistrict litigation matter. On Monday, there were at least 27 lawsuits filed in the Illinois Southern District Court against Syngenta which will likely be consolidated into the multidistrict litigation.
Since the beginning of June there have been at least 126 lawsuits filed against Syngenta, according to Docket Alarm Analytics, with the primary allegations being that using its paraquat-based herbicides led to the development of Parkinson’s. These lawsuits began being filed near the end of 2020, and there was a similar spike in cases in April which was covered by Law Street Media.
Over 90 of the new cases were filed in the Illinois federal court where the multidistrict litigation is being held and contain the same Pacer case tag, 365 signifying product liability. The claimants allege that the defendants are liable for the harm caused by their product and that they did not provide sufficient safeguards or warnings. The majority of the cases were filed against Syngenta Crop Protection, Syngetna Ag, and Chevron, companies which developed and produced the paraquat products.
Gustafson Gluek has filed the highest number of cases, the firm filed 33 in April and has filed at least 21 so far in June. Andrus Wagstaff also filed a large group of lawsuits in April and a smaller group during the previous part of June. Kirkland & Ellis, which has represented Syngenta in multiple lawsuits since November 2019, has filed appearances in 22 of the recent lawsuits.
A rise in paraquat lawsuits after the consolidation was predicted by attorney Gregory Cade, who was interviewed by Law Street for a previous article. His firm, Environmental Litigation Group, was waiting to file lawsuits on behalf of their clients until the court ruled on consolidation and they knew where the cases would be heard.
Because paraquat is a herbicide only available with a license, each of these plaintiffs likely either works on a farm that uses the products or lives near the farm, so the number of claims will not be able to reach the numbers of claims against Monsanto regarding its Roundup herbicide, however, the trends suggest that there are still many more lawsuits to be filed in this matter.