Syngenta Crop Protection and Chevron U.S.A. received a complaint on Tuesday in the Southern District of Illinois purporting that its products containing paraquat, a synthetic chemical compound used as the active ingredient in some of its herbicides, caused the plaintiffs to develop Parkinson’s disease.
The complaint explained that Imperial Chemical Industries Limited and Chemical Industries PLC, predecessors of Syngenta, and Chevron Chemical Company, a predecessor of Chevron, manufactured products with paraquat between 1964 and 1986. Chevron reportedly used the paraquat products and distributed them for sale throughout the United States. After 1986, Syngenta continued to manufacture paraquat and use it in various products.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensation and damages for their injuries which they alleged were caused by “many years of regular, frequent, prolonged exposure to paraquat from Defendants’ paraquat products.” The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants were negligent, failed to warn about the failures in their product, were a public nuisance, violated implied warranty, and violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
Reportedly, Syngenta’s predecessor and Syngenta the only manufacturer of herbicides that used paraquat; it developed the products under the brand Gramoxone in 1962 and received a patent on herbicides containing paraquat.
The plaintiffs reported that the products were designed to be used multiple times each year on the same ground to control broadleaf weeds and grasses, specifically in orchards and to dry plants prior to harvesting them. The plaintiffs reportedly used the products as they were intended to be used, including using the appropriate diluting and sprayers which were commonly used to apply the products. The plaintiffs claimed that Syngenta and Chevron knew that paraquat could be inhaled and that drift and spray could come in contact with those who were applying it, and that this could cause a substantial risk of harm to individuals.
The plaintiffs also purported that paraquat and Parkinson’s disease are connected, citing that the chemical is used by scientists on animals to produce a model of Parkinson’s disease for studies. Further, the complaint cited studies that have found that paraquat causes dopaminergic neurons to degenerate and increases the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Each plaintiff is seeking punitive and compensatory damages “in an amount sufficient to punish (the defendants) and encourage (them) and others from similar conduct.” The plaintiffs are represented by Korein Tillery, LLC.