May 26, 2021
Louisiana ag workers file lawsuit against herbicide manufacturers

Two former Louisiana agricultural workers suffering from Parkinson’s disease have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of the herbicide paraquat. The plaintiffs, including a former Louisiana State Ag Center Extension agent, worked in the state’s ag industry, and were reportedly exposed to the toxic chemical for years.

According to a news release from New Orleans law firm Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC, in 2020, a peer-reviewed study by three LSU researchers found a clear correlation between Parkinson’s disease and the use of paraquat in rural areas of Louisiana.

The lawsuits, filed May 25 by the New Orleans firms of Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC and the Sangisetty Law Firm and the Los Angeles firm of Arias, Sanguinetti, Wang, Torrijos, allege that Chevron USA, Inc. and Syngeta AG failed to warn of the risk of contracting Parkinson’s disease from chronic, low-dose exposure to its herbicide. Punitive damages are also sought for alleged deceptive and unlawful marketing practices.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder of the brain that primarily affects the body’s motor system. There is currently no cure or treatment to stop or reverse its progression.

Paraquat was introduced into the U.S. in the 1960s and marketed as a safe and effective method of controlling vegetation. It has regained popularity as vegetation has become resistant to other herbicides.

Agricultural workers may be exposed by inhalation through the nose or mouth or absorption through the skin. It may take years for the effects of exposure to show up.

In 2019, legislation was proposed to ban paraquat in the U.S., but the bill died in Congress.

The recently filed lawsuits may soon be consolidated as multi-district litigation (MDL) with other paraquat cases nationwide, the news release stated. A judicial panel will meet in Washington May 27 to hear arguments about whether the cases should be transferred to a single judge for pre-trial proceedings.

Stephen J. Herman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the MDL following the BP Oil Spill, sees the consolidation of paraquat cases as a leveling tool for victims of the herbicide.

“An MDL allows–indeed requires–the best lawyers from around the country to pool their knowledge, experience and financial resources, so that the farmer in Ruston can go toe-to-toe with a company like Chevron,” Herman said. “With our track record in these cases and decades-long relationships with the nations’ leading firms, Herman, Herman & Katz is uniquely positioned to fight for our ag workers.”

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