When it comes to mass tort litigation involving toxic chemicals, Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup brand gets all the attention. However, another herbicide could prove to be a costly liability to its maker and chief distributor.
According to Bloomberg.com, over the last seven months, Paraquat lawsuits are being filed on virtually a daily basis. Plaintiffs, mostly farmers and agricultural workers, have alleged that exposure to Paraquat has caused them to develop Parkinson’s Disease.
Syngenta, a Swiss chemical corporation, and Chevron, the biggest seller of Paraquat, are the defendants in dozens of lawsuits. Syngenta disclosed last month that back in June, it had agreed to pay over $187 million to resolve an untold number of lawsuits.
That same month, a federal judge announced that a Paraquat jury trial would be scheduled for November 2022.
Bloomberg Intelligence predicts that although Paraquat litigation is still in the early phases, based on June’s $187.5 million settlement figure, top-end litigation costs will likely run in the billions for Syngenta and Chevron.
Paraquat must be sprayed by a licensed operator in the U.S. But in over 30 countries, the herbicide has been banned because of the association with Parkinson’s Disease, a neurological disorder that causes shaking, balance disturbances and muscle stiffness.
Since February of this year, over 400 new Paraquat complaints have been filed in federal courts. However, since the beginning of the year, only a handful of suits were being litigated in either state or federal courts, per Bloomberg.
Over 125,000 individuals filed Roundup cancer lawsuits. Three cases have been tried in court. Juries in all three cases found that Monsanto—acquired by Bayer AG in 2018 for $63 billion—was responsible for plaintiffs’ development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and that Monsanto knowingly hid the risks of glyphosate.
The number of Paraquat claims will likely skyrocket as judgements against Monsanto in all three Roundup cases were upheld by higher courts. (A fourth Roundup lawsuit is currently underway in court.) F
Paraquat claims have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL), which provides incentive for mass tort attorneys to assist more Paraquat victims.