Articles

Lawsuit alleges man developed Parkinson’s symptoms from paraquat exposure

by Jeffrey Nadrich Managing Partner, Nadrich & Cohen, LLP

A lawsuit filed on March 15 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois alleges that an Illinois man developed neurological injuries consistent with Parkinson’s disease due to his exposure to the herbicide paraquat. The lawsuit names Syngenta, Chevron Phillips Chemical, and Chevron U.S.A. as defendants.


The plaintiff, according to the complaint, from 1983 to 2002, was repeatedly exposed to paraquat while spraying, mixing and applying the herbicide to fields in multiple Illinois counties. He, as a result, has suffered permanent and severe disability, physical pain and mental anguish, the loss of a normal life, income and medical expenses.


The complaint claims that it is reasonably foreseeable that those nearby paraquat while it’s being mixed and loaded into sprayer tanks will be exposed to it because of leaks, splashes and spills. It is reasonably foreseeable, according to the complaint, that those who spray paraquat or are in or near areas where it is being sprayed or was just sprayed will be exposed to paraquat by the wind, as well as contact with sprayed plants. Spills, leaks and splashes, according to the complaint, can result while equipment is being emptied, cleaned or maintained, exposing users and those nearby to paraquat.


The complaint alleges that it is reasonably foreseeable that paraquat can enter the human body by penetrating the skin, mucous membranes and epithelial tissues, as well as through the lungs via respiration and through the digestive tract via ingestion. Paraquat which enters the digestive tract, according to the complaint, can enter the enteric nervous system.


The complaint claims that it is reasonably foreseeable that paraquat which enters the human body can enter the bloodstream as well as the brain.


One of the primary pathophysiological hallmarks” of Parkinson’s, according to the complaint, is “the selective degeneration and death of dopaminergic neurons.” This results in less dopamine production, according to the complaint, which states that when dopamine production falls too low, motor function suffers, resulting in Parkinson’s symptoms.


Dopaminergic neurons, according to the complaint, “are particularly susceptible to oxidative stress,” and scientists “generally agree that oxidative stress is a major factor in – if not the precipitating cause of – the degeneration and death of dopaminergic neurons.”


Paraquat, according to the complaint, is “highly toxic” to animals and plants, killing them through oxidative stress which causes cells to degenerate and die. The complaint states it does this because it readily goes through “redox cycling” when it’s around oxygen, which is found in living cells.


This redox cycling, according to the complaint, creates a “superoxide radical” which can “initiate a cascading series of chemical reactions that creates other reactive oxygen species that damage lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.”


Paraquat’s redox cycling can thus, according to the complaint, “repeat indefinitely in the conditions typically present in living cells,” and even a “single molecule” of paraquat can initiate this chain reaction.


The redox properties of paraquat have been known since at least the 1930s, according to the complaint, and that paraquat is toxic to animal and plant cells because its redox cycling creates oxidative stress has been known since at least the 1960s.


Multiple studies, including those published in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2020, have linked paraquat with Parkinson’s disease.


Surfactants with which paraquat was typically formulated increased its abilities to stay in contact with or penetrate the skin, mucous membranes and other epithelial tissues, likely increasing its toxicity, according to the complaint.


Paraquat’s redox properties, according to the complaint, make it toxic to dopaminergic neurons.


Paraquat is a strong oxidant that interferes with the function of, damages, and ultimately kills dopaminergic neurons by creating oxidative stress through redox cycling,” the complaint states. Animal studies, according to the complaint, have found that paraquat creates oxidative stress which kills dopaminergic neurons, creating motor deficits and behavioral changes which resemble those seen in humans with Parkinson’s disease.


Hundreds of in vitro studies,” according to the complaint, have found that paraquat kills dopaminergic neurons via oxidative stress.


The complaint seeks to recover damages based on strict product liability – design defect, alleging that paraquat is defective by design since it can cause Parkinson’s disease when used as intended or in a way which is reasonably foreseeable. The complaint claims this makes the product unreasonably dangerous, and means that its risks outweigh its benefits.


Damages are sought by the complaint on the basis of strict product liability – failure to warn. The complaint alleges that the defendants knew or should have known that paraquat could cause Parkinson’s disease, and that it was reasonably foreseeable that, when paraquat was used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable way, people would be exposed to paraquat in ways where it was likely to enter the human body and cause Parkinson’s disease.


Negligence is alleged by the complaint. Negligence is not being reasonably careful to prevent harm. Acting can be negligent. Not acting can be negligent. Doing what is not reasonably careful is negligence. Failing to do what a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation is negligent.


The complaint claims that the defendants breached their duty of reasonable care in numerous ways. Negligence occurred when the defendants failed to make sure that it was unlikely that people would be exposed to paraquat in a way that would cause it to enter the bloodstream, according to the complaint, as well as when the defendants failed to make sure that it would not cause neurological damage when it was absorbed into the bloodstream.


Negligence is alleged by the complaint in relation to the defendants’ alleged failure to adequately test the likelihood of paraquat exposure as well as the health effects of said exposure. The complaint also alleges that it was negligent of the defendants to fail to warn about the risk of neurological damage from paraquat.

The complaint argues that punitive damages are justifiable because of the defendants’ “intentional disregard for the safety of users of paraquat.”


Public nuisance is alleged by the complaint. The Illinois Constitution of 1970, according to the complaint, states that “the public policy of the State and the duty of each person is to provide and maintain a healthful environment,” and that “each person has the right to a healthful environment.”


The negligent conduct of the defendants, according to the complaint, breached their duty to the public to provide and maintain a healthful environment, thus constituting a public nuisance.


The complaint alleges violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive

Business Practices Act, 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. This act, according to the complaint, prohibits “deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact… in conduct of any trade or commerce.”


The complaint claims the defendants had “actual or constructive knowledge” that paraquat, when used as intended, was likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream of people, where it was likely to cause neurological damage, yet “concealed, suppressed, or omitted” this knowledge. This behavior was “unfair,” according to the complaint, because it “offended public policy,” was “immoral, unethical, oppressive, and unscrupulous, and caused substantial injury to consumers.” The complaint states the behavior “served only to benefit Defendants… at the expense of the health of purchasers and users of paraquat and the public.”


The complaint alleges breach of implied warranty of merchantability, claiming the defendants “impliedly warranted that [paraquat] was of merchantable quality,” when it was not “because it was not fit for the ordinary purposes for which” it was used, since it can be absorbed into the bloodstream when used as intended, leading to neurological damage.


For more information on paraquat lawsuits, visit Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers.


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About Jeffrey Nadrich Freshman   Managing Partner, Nadrich & Cohen, LLP

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Joined APSense since, March 29th, 2020, From Los Angeles, CA, United States.

Created on Mar 27th 2021 18:49. Viewed 154 times.

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