Experienced Paraquat Attorneys in KC Helping Victims Recover
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after exposure to the herbicide Paraquat, the lawyers at Krause & Kinsman are here to help. We will fight for you to recover the financial compensation that you deserve by investigating your case and filing a lawsuit on your behalf. We have experience getting results for our clients, and we have particular experience in product liability cases like the Paraquat litigation. Our partners have been on the steering committees for numerous large national mass tort cases. We are experienced Kansas City paraquat attorneys committed to helping our clients obtain the compensation they deserve.
What Is Paraquat?
Paraquat is a popular and powerful weed killer sold under the brand name Gramoxone since 1961. This product is so toxic that it can only be used by specially licensed and trained people using heavy protective equipment. Any type of direct exposure to Paraquat can be life-threatening.
Paraquat is a very effective yet very dangerous product. The product is used to kill weeds and grasses on farms and in non-agricultural settings. The product is affordable, which has led to its extensive usage around the globe until recently. The price means that it is a favorite product in lower-income countries. Now, the product is being increasingly banned around the world because of its danger. However, Americans are still at risk, as the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) has not taken steps to ban Paraquat’s use in the United States. The herbicide has been made by a number of companies over the years. The current manufacturer is Syngenta. This was formed by a spinoff of Astra and Zeneca’s seed production businesses to allow their merger. Syngenta is currently owned by the China National Chemical Corporation. You can still sue Syngenta in U.S. court when you have been injured by their product.
Paraquat Is Extremely Dangerous to Farm Workers and Nearby Residents
Paraquat works by cutting off the photosynthesis process that weeds and grass need to survive. Paraquat interrupts the electron transfer that is a part of photosynthesis. It is an aromatic organic salt that “locks onto” weeds and kills them quickly. It is a long-acting chemical that does not wash away with the rain. However, part of the problem is that Paraquat does not completely stay in place when it is applied.
At the same time, Paraquat is a lethal chemical for humans. It can only be applied by specially licensed persons wearing heavy protective equipment. It is so toxic that ingesting it will almost certainly cause a quick death. Those who survive will be left with permanent heart and lung damage. Even contact with the skin can cause serious injury. As a result, Paraquat usage is heavily regulated.
Paraquat does not just threaten the workers who apply it and those who are employed on the farm. Like any chemical applied to or near crops, Paraquat can be blown by the wind to the surrounding areas. While the exposure is not as direct as workers experience, its residual effects could also sicken people who live in nearby areas where Paraquat is applied. So long as you have been injured by Paraquat, you can file a lawsuit. It does not matter whether you were a farmworker with direct exposure.
Recent research has shown exactly how dangerous Paraquat is. There has long been a suspicion that pesticides and herbicides are tied to Parkinson’s Disease. One of the earlier studies found that the use of Paraquat within 1,600 feet of a home increased the resident’s risk of Parkinson’s disease by up to 75%.
The landmark study that changed the scientific discussion was released in 2011. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study found that direct Paraquat exposure increased the risk of Parkinson’s disease by up to 250%. Subsequent research studies have further quantified the risks. One study claimed that Paraquat increased the risk of Parkinson’s disease by up to 600%
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that frequently develops because of toxins in the environment. Only about 10-20% of cases happen solely because of genetics. Researchers believe that most cases of the disease result from a combination of environment and genetics. The people most likely to suffer from the disease are those who were exposed to toxic chemicals at work.
The toxicity from Paraquat affects the body years after exposure. In fact, many lawsuits that are being filed now result from exposure that happened decades ago. In that way, the Paraquat lawsuits are similar to asbestos and mesothelioma cases.
How Paraquat Causes Parkinson’s Disease
Here is why research thinks that the herbicide is connected with this degenerative neurological condition:
- The main mechanism that Paraquat uses to kill weeds is called oxidative stress. This alters cell chemistry in both plants and humans who are exposed to it.
- Oxidative stress can disproportionately impact cells in the region of the brain that Parkinson’s impacts.
- Parkinson’s is caused by mutations in cells, and Paraquat mimics these mutations.
- Paraquat prevents cells from moving in the brain, keeping them from generating energy.
These are just some of the many conclusions that a multitude of researchers have reached over the years. What is hard to believe is that the EPA does not think that the weight of the evidence is persuasive. At this point, there are dozens of studies that have explored the link between Paraquat and Parkinson’s.
The EPA Weighs In on Paraquat in the United States
The United States is one of the only places in the world where you can actually still use Paraquat. The herbicide is banned in Europe because of its danger. Other global regulators are also forbidding its usage after the data has shown that it injures people. In an ironic twist, even China has outlawed Paraquat.
At this point, the Environmental Protection Agency stubbornly clings to the idea that Paraquat can be safely used with the right regulations, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary. The regulator conducted a review of Paraquat and specifically allowed its continued usage, even though practically every other regulator around the world has taken a different viewpoint. This is the latest example of the EPA being a holdout while Americans are being sickened by dangerous products.
The EPA has proposed “mitigation measures” that it thinks will make Paraquat usage safer. In the meantime, agricultural workers and people living near farms are at risk of Parkinson’s disease. Now, the best hope for public safety is that Congress will step up and ban Paraquat, although that does not seem likely. For now, Paraquat usage will be permitted until the next regulatory review in 2035.
The Effects of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a condition that will almost completely rob a person of their quality of life. It develops most often in people over the age of 60, and it is a progressive condition. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that happens when cells in the substantia nigra region of the brain die more quickly than they should. This leads to a significant decrease in the amount of dopamine that your brain produces. Dopamine helps regulate brain activity, keeping it acting normally. When more than half of the cells in this area die, the patient will begin to exhibit symptoms of the disease.
Some of the symptoms that are associated with Parkinson’s disease include:
- Slowness of movement
- Difficulty speaking
- Shuffling gait
- Hallucinations and delusions
Due to these issues, the costs associated with Parkinson’s disease can be significant. Overall, Parkinson’s costs the entire U.S. economy over $52 billion each year. Just the medications alone can approach $3,000 yearly, and surgery can cost up to $100,000.
When the disease reaches an advanced stage, patients will need extensive medical care. In addition, they will go through considerable pain and suffering over a prolonged period of time as their condition degenerates. They may even require household care and a full-time aide if the symptoms are severe enough.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. The condition can be managed with medication, but it will grow worse over time. Parkinson’s itself is not fatal, but it will cause serious complications. As the disease progresses, it will largely rob the patient of most of their quality of life. Eventually, complications from the disease can kill the patient. Parkinson’s complications are the 14th-leading cause of death in the United States.
How Much Is a Paraquat Case Worth?
One of the first questions that clients ask us is how much they can recover in a Paraquat lawsuit. The answer that we will always give is that it depends on the extent of your own specific injuries. Some factors that could influence your case’s value would include:
- How old you were when you were diagnosed with the disease
- How severe your case of Parkinson’s is
- The extent of the care that you need
- What your life was like before the diagnosis and what you have missed
In terms of the exact value, you should consider that the average cost of annual care for a Parkinson’s patient could reach $25,000. In our experience, we believe that a Parkinson’s settlement could have compensation that reaches $200,000. If you win your case in front of a jury, you may receive even more because jury verdicts are often higher than settlements. Generally, you would be compensated for the following if you were to receive a Paraquat settlement:
- Medical bills
- Home care and assistance
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages or reduction in earning capacity
- Emotional distress
How Can a Paraquat Lawyer in Kansas City Help You
If you or a loved one have been exposed to Paraquat and subsequently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you should see a lawyer immediately. Time is of the essence because the statute of limitations may begin the run when you first start experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This is one trick that defendants always try to use in cases where diseases develop slowly over time.
The first thing that a Kansas City Paraquat lawyer will do is talk to you and learn more about your case. The attorney is trying to figure out whether you have a valid claim for compensation. That is an absolute prerequisite for filing a lawsuit. Your lawyer will do the following:
- Ask you questions about how and when you were exposed to Paraquat
- Review your medical records
- Review the applicable law to see if they believe that the potential defendant broke it
- Investigate the case
- Draft the legal complaint that will open your lawsuit in court, describing the facts and your legal grounds for compensation
Valuation of Your Claim
As we already explained, while different plaintiffs might suffer from the same disease, it could impact them in different ways. No two Paraquat cases have the same exact valuation. The key is in knowing how much your case is worth. This takes extensive knowledge and experience, especially when you may be negotiating a settlement. You do not want to settle your case for too little.
At some point, you may need to argue damages to a jury or describe how you have suffered to a claims administrator. Your attorney will review things like the drop in your earnings, your quality of life, and your medical costs to arrive at what they believe your case is worth. An average plaintiff would have little way of knowing this on their own.
Your case will begin with filing a complaint in court. That starts the legal process that could end with a trial. However, while you always have the right to a hearing, your case may not go that far.
Evidence in Your Paraquat Case
Even once the case begins, your lawyer will still be gathering evidence. This is because the most detailed and involved part of your case is discovery. There is some evidence that it would be impossible for your lawyer to get before a trial because it is in the defendant’s possession. The legal process gives you a chance to get your hands on evidence that could help prove your case. In a Paraquat lawsuit, that could include the following:
- Corporate documents about how the product’s design and composition
- Internal communications possibly showing that the defendant knew that Paraquat was dangerous
- Studies performed by scientists on behalf of the company about the product’s safety
- Sales figures that show how much the company made off Paraquat in case the jury decides to hit the defendants with punitive damages
There has been speculation that corporate documents may show that the manufacturer knew that its product could cause Parkinson’s and still sold it to the general public. These are the types of facts that could lead to punitive damages.
Eventually, your case may reach the point where it settles like many product liability cases. If that happens, your lawyer may handle negotiations on your behalf. They could determine whether the settlement offer that the defendants make fairly values your case and should be accepted. If not, they would continue to advocate for you as you seek enough money to pay for your damages.
Where the Paraquat Lawsuits Stand Now
Right now, there is a growing number of Paraquat lawsuits. They are being filed in state and federal courts across the country. These lawsuits name Syngenta and Chevron, a previous maker of Paraquat. Here are some of the grounds that plaintiffs are alleging so far in their lawsuits:
- Paraquat has a defective design and is unreasonably dangerous
- The defendants knew that Paraquat could cause neurological damage when it was ingested and failed to warn the public about it
- The defendants were negligent in designing, packaging, manufacturing, and labeling the product.
- The defendant failed to perform the necessary testing that would have revealed the danger of this product or made it safer.
The federal paraquat cases may be consolidated into multidistrict litigation. In early 2021, there were around 20 active federal cases along with others in state courts. We expect this number to keep growing. The first Paraquat lawsuit scheduled to go in front of a state court has been postponed indefinitely. That is a sign that the two sides may be discussing a settlement. Now is the time to see a Paraquat lawyer if you have been impacted by the dangerous product.
It will cost you nothing to speak with a Paraquat lawyer. We will provide you with a free initial consultation, where we will learn the facts of your case and discuss your legal options. Then, once we become your lawyers, we will not send you monthly bills, nor will we ask for a retainer. In fact, we will not charge you anything unless you are successful in your case. Then, we would be paid a percentage of what you recover in your case. There is no risk to you to hire an attorney in your Paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuit. The major risk comes from not hiring an attorney. Although there is no legal requirement to hire an attorney, not having one could reduce your chances of receiving financial compensation.
Do I Need a Paraquat Lawyer?
It is highly advisable for anyone that has suffered adverse health effects after exposure to Paraquat to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
How Much Does a Paraquat Lawyer Cost?
At Krause & Kinsman, there are no up-front costs associated with retaining us to represent you, and we will only collect legal fees if we secure a settlement or award on your behalf.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
The amount of time you have to file a claim depends on the state in which you live, but it could be as short as a year from the date you developed symptoms. It is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as you can.