Syngenta and Chevron were hit with six more suits in federal courts in California, Illinois and Pennsylvania over allegations that the herbicide paraquat causes Parkinson’s disease, as the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation prepares to decide whether to consolidate the litigation.
The Pennsylvania suits are the first ones filed in the state over paraquat, according to the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. All the suits allege that Syngenta and Chevron knew about the dangers of paraquat for at least 40 years but hid evidence of its risks from the government and deliberately released a product they knew caused Parkinson’s disease.
There are currently 62 cases pending in 12 districts over paraquat. The plaintiffs in these cases allege that they developed Parkinson’s disease after many years of exposure to the herbicide, which is used to kill weeds in fields before the planting of crops. The substance is banned in the European Union but is sold with restrictions in the U.S.
They all argue that the scientific community “overwhelmingly agrees” that the herbicide causes Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is only known to occur naturally in humans, but research on the disease is often performed on laboratory animals that are artificially induced to show features characteristic of the disease.
“Paraquat is one of only a handful of toxins that scientists use to produce animal models of Parkinson’s disease,” they say.
In mid-April, two plaintiffs pushed for consolidation of the suits over paraquat, with one saying the suits should be sent to the Northern District of California, as they all arise from exposure to the same toxin that allegedly caused the same disease, and all plaintiffs are likely to seek much of the same discovery.