What are mass torts? Mass torts are a series of lawsuits in the hundreds, sometimes thousands, brought against a manufacturer of a defective product, medication, or device that harms numerous people. An example of a mass tort is paraquat injury lawsuits.
What is a paraquat injury? Paraquat is a herbicide that kills weeds, and farmers use it as an agricultural grass and crop control chemical. However, it contains toxic chemicals that can cause severe injuries if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. It is often released onto a farm using different types of drifts and overspray.
The problem is that people who live or go to school around a farm or agricultural center are at risk of ingesting this harmful chemical, even in trace amounts. With over 157 paraquat injury lawsuits filed nationwide, the problem is more common than expected.
According to multiple studies, there’s a 200 to 600% risk of developing Parkinson’s disease after exposure to paraquat. If you feel any symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, you should get checked. You may have come in contact with paraquat. And if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you should contact Dolman Law Group immediately.
What are the Parkinson’s disease symptoms? Is it possible to experience paraquat exposure even if you don’t live near an agricultural center?
Learn more in this episode of the David vs. Goliath podcast with elite personal injury lawyer Matt Dolman and Legal Clerk Mike Furdock. Together, they discuss exposures to paraquat, the scary connection between paraquat and Parkinson’s disease, the stages and symptoms of the disease, the litigation process for paraquat injuries, and what to do if you or a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
In this episode:
- [00:49] Matt Dolman welcomes his guest, Mike Furdock, and introduces the topic of the day: Exposures to Paraquat
- [01:22] What is Paraquat?
- [02:40] How is Paraquat released to the environment?
- [03:15] People who are at risk of Paraquat poisoning
- [04:21] How prevalent are Paraquat injury cases?
- [05:34] Multi-district litigation of Paraquat exposure cases: how it works
- [06:57] Banned in over 30 countries, what is the government doing about the Paraquat problem?
- [07:39]What is Parkinson’s disease?
- [08:58] Stages of Parkinson’s disease
- [11:15] The scary relationship between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease
- [12:01] What to do if you or someone you know is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease?
Welcome to another episode of the Sibley Dolman Gipe podcast. Today, I have my illustrious guest, Mike Furdock, who is our third year law clerk. Mike, it’s a pleasure having you on the show today.
Thank you, Matt. It’s a pleasure to be here.
So we’re going to get right into it today. We’re going to discuss what’s considered the hottest mass tort out there right now. And by mass torts, these are lawsuits and it’s usually a series of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of lawsuits brought against a manufacturer of a defective product, a defective medication, a defective device. In this case, it’s Paraquat, which is an herbicide. Explain what Paraquat is.
Yeah, so basically Paraquat came about in 1961. Its purpose was to kill weeds and used as an agricultural grass and crop control chemical.
So it’s an herbicide?
It’s an herbicide. Yeah. However, this herbicide is extremely toxic, toxic to the point to where not only does it obviously work really well to kill weeds, but it’s obviously killing people, too. If you ingest this herbicide, you will have serious health problems immediately if you ingest too much of it. I’m talking very small amounts.
So it’s considered more dangerous in Roundup. I know it’s been banned in 30 different countries.
Yes. Now over 32 countries, it’s been banned. The United States produces more than 10 million pounds of the year.
So and unlike Roundup, per se, so Roundup, anyone could buy Roundup.
Meaning you can order a Roundup on Amazon. We could have picked up a Roundup at numerous different outdoor stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot or some outdoor store, where you can buy outdoor goods. This is different. So you need a license to spray this type of herbicide. So Paraquat is not something that your normal individual’s going to get, your normal weekend warrior. So I would assume there’s going to be a lot less volume with these type of cases.
Correct. There’s going to be a lot less volume of these type of cases. However, the exposure to it is still very high because when you have what’s called, there are different types of drifts and over spray.
Yeah. Tell me what’s a drift and what’s an over spray.
Yeah. So what you have is a vapor drift. And a vapor drift, you would think that strong winds may blow this vapor from overspraying the product, and it would get into the air. People would inhale it, get into your skin. It’s that powerful. Almost like some type of virus.
So meaning if you live in a residence that’s within close proximity of where it’s being sprayed?
How far do these drifts go?
Well, the vapor drift could go for more than one mile.
And the particles, there are that much of a continued particle?
Yes. Now, the actual overs pray itself, the herbicide overspray itself; for example, if there’s a pilot doing crop dusting work, flying over farmland and whatnot, he likely is going to be flying over residential land to get to that farmland or while leaving that farmland. And any overspray is going to trickle down into the air that way as well. So you have people that, if you live or go to school within a couple miles or right around an area of a farm or a major agricultural-
Center. Yep. You have the chance to be at risk of having ingested this at some point, even if it’s trace amounts. And it’s the trace amounts that are actually causing the problems. Because like I said-
You live in a close approximate location to formula.
You could have been exposed to this.
How common is this being sprayed? Is this all over the 50 states?
Right now, there’s been 14 lawsuits filed in three states, California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.
But it’s used pretty much in any of the main states that-
You’re using old data, by the way. It’s now up to 86 lawsuits. And they’ve been consolidated. So that’s where I come in. But we’re going to, I’m going to catch you up with that up-dated information.
86 lawsuits then.
Okay. So’s a lot. So then obviously it’s not as rare as you’d think, especially because of the use of it. And yeah, it’s actually used in pretty much, I would say every major agricultural setting in the country.
Where they grow any type of crops.
And by the way, even my information’s outdated. So this is how quick it’s growing. It’s now up to 157 lawsuits.
Oh, wow. Okay.
Yeah. With 68 of those filed in the last two weeks. So we have 157 lawsuits that are pending. So this is what’s known as Multi-District Litigation, MDL. And for our viewers who don’t understand what that means is, whenever we see it’s similar to a class action, but a little bit different. Class actions have to have commonality where it’s the same exact issue repeating over and over again and affecting the same claimants. Okay? Every claimant has the same basic common claim. This is a little bit different.
Now, with multi-district litigation, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to coordinate the litigation of thousands of lawsuits, which is alleged to be in the thousands. It’s going to grow quickly. Into one courtroom in the country. One judge is going to oversee all the litigations. It consolidates, it makes it organized, and makes it a much more efficient process.
And what will wind up happening is with this coordinated discovery and coordinated depositions, they’ll eventually be what’s known as bellwether trials. In every multi-district litigation, regardless of what it is, whether it’s Roundup, in the past Accutane, PowerGuard, Morena, intrauterine device, there’s a number of these different claims going on. We have what’s known as bellwether cases, which is the plaintiff bar and the defense bar pick usually six to 12 cases that the fact patterns are diverse enough that they run the gamut of what we’re going to see going forward.
They basically give you a cross pattern of what you’re going to see throughout the thousands of cases. And they try these cases. It gives everyone a flavor of what to expect going forward. So if either the 12 or nine to 12 go the plaintiff’s way, they’re more likely to get these cases settled than resolved.
For thousands of claims. And if it goes defense bar’s way, then, obviously, it’s going to curtail future litigation. They’re going to settle these cases for a lot less, sometimes even pennies on a dollar.
That’s happened with mass projects. And apparently the sign is pretty strong in this one.
Science is extremely strong.
It’s banned in 30 countries.
Yeah. In fact, the United States, not only do they require a license to spray it, what they do is they actually, when they make it, include a certain blue dye. Not only do they include a blue dye to distinguish it from other liquids, but they also give it a very strong pungent odor.
So you should be able to see it and smell it. Now, if by chance, you still ingest it, they actually put a chemical inducing, vomiting component.
I heard about that.
In the Paraquat substance because they want, if you ingest Paraquat, you need to try and get it out of your system immediately.
So that’s why that’s put in there.
I’m asked what is Parkinson’s disease. And we know Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder, as I discussed earlier. Take me through what are the different stages of Parkinson’s disease? What does the average … Because a lot of individuals don’t know they’re actually suffering the very beginning in the early stages of such. What are the indicators?
Correct. Well, basically there’s five stages of Parkinson’s. Your first stage is going to be very mild, minor, motory symptoms that usually don’t affect your everyday activities.
Could be some changes in sleep. Could have some changes in posture or walking, but nothing noticeable to the fact that you start thinking, oh my God, I might have Parkinson’s or do I have Parkinson’s. Right?
You might not realize you have a neurological disorder, you just have some issues and you’re putting it off.
And so if you’re located within close proximity, adjacent to farmland or an agricultural center, and you’re noticing some mild tremors, what else would you notice? Is there any-
I’d even say if you’re noticing any mild tremors or potential side effects or symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, I would say, obviously, get checked immediately, whether you live next to farmland or not. But you should definitely find out whether or not you may be starting to develop Parkinson’s because there’s not just that one stage, like I mentioned. There are four more. There’s five total stages.
Yeah. Go through them.
So the symptoms after, in stage two, tremors begin to start occurring. So … which is obviously a lot more serious. You start having rigid body movements. You can’t sit still. Now, people could still live on their own with this, but life starts to become more difficult.
You clearly have a neurological disorder going on.
Yes. And it’s-
Whether or not it’s Parkinson’s. You have something that warrants.
Which need to be checked.
Yes, exactly. And should be checked. When you start to get to the third stage, they call it the mid stage.
Right? Now you’re going to start getting that loss of balance, that slowness and whatnot and movements. You have problems eating, directing the fork or spoon to your mouth because-
I assume getting dressed will be an issue?
Yes. Getting dressed will be an issue. Tying your shoes. Anything like that.
Also, another thing, too, is you have a higher likelihood of falling.
Which causes other injuries.
Yes. Which goes hand in hand with balance. And that’s another thing. So …
As they continue to worsen, basically, individuals, they may be able to stand without help, but any type of movement they want to do or need to do is going to be with either the help of a cane or walker.
Or someone else helping them. And the scary part when you get to this stage is that you should no longer be living alone. It is not recommended.
It’s not safe.
The fact that you can’t really, it’s not safe.
What’s the fourth stage?
That was the fourth stage.
Oh. This half of this stage.
And the fifth stage is?
Yep. The fifth stage is now this is where the most severe symptoms are going to occur. There’s going to be stiffness in legs. It’s almost impossible to walk or even stand up. That’s how weak-
Yeah. That’s how weak your muscles are and your motor skills are.
Yes, it is. And believe it or not, it also is going to, you could also have hallucinations too, that may occur and cause other issues. So it’s a very scary thing. And if you have, start to get any of these symptoms in those early stages, again, regardless of whether you live next to farmland, you should get it checked out. Because even if you don’t live next to farmland, maybe you’re exposed in a different way.
And there’s a 2017 study by the Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council, looking at this statistic right now. It is pretty alarming. It suggests that the individuals who’ve been chronically exposed to Paraquat have a 200 to 600% greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Yes. And there’s been several studies.
And we cite that on our website. There’s a seven other studies that have been cited that indicate or create indicia of the link between Paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s disease, so.
We’ll only learn through discovery. What does Syngenta know? What does Chevron USA know? Before, not only bringing this to market, but while they had this on at market, why didn’t they pull us off when they knew that? This has been banned in 30 countries.
Yeah. You’re looking at a strict liability, product liability case.
More or less.
So at the end of the day, if you have, or have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s or a loved one has that you know or somebody you know, call us.
We want to see if there is a cause of link. Are you near an agricultural center? Do you live within close proximity or adjacent to farm land?
It could contaminate water, too. The runoff, the soil-
Yeah. It binds in the soil. It gets into the soil and could run off contaminating water. So now you’re-
I would assume there are thousands of cases of Parkinson’s disease where individuals did not realize that they are-
There might be a link and they could have been exposed.
Yes. Yeah. Because it could happen at any time, even from when they were younger. Once the smallest amounts of ingestion happen, potential problems start to occur. It immediately travels to the organs, liver, heart, kidney, lungs.
Then you’re chronically exposed over and over again.
Yes. It’s even worse.
Now the defendants are Syngenta Corporation and Chevron USA, are the main manufacturers-
Of Paraquat, which sold under a bunch of different names. These cases now are being filed in the Southern District in Illinois. That’s where it’s all been put together. It’s where the multi-district litigation class is. The question is how long is this going to go? But what I really want to discuss at this point is the causal link they’re trying to display is between the use of Paraquat and Parkinson’s disease. And Parkinson’s disease, as we know, is a horrifying neurological disease. A lot of individuals out there know Michael J. Fox. And it quickly deteriorates your nervous system. And the effects are seen, they’re crippling. And it’s very pronounced and it’s very quick. And there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease. And right now they believe there’s a strong, scientific link between the use of Paraquat or Paraquat exposure and the incidence, the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
And that’s what we’re looking for right now. We’re investigating these cases nationwide. And in states where we’re not licensed, we associate with local council to be in compliant with the local bar rules in each specific state. But we’re handling these cases nationwide. And if you have any question, if you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you or a loved one, or have any other health concerns or health issues related to the exposure of Paraquat.
If you were located in land that is near or adjacent to or within close proximity of farmland or an agricultural center, give us a call. We’re available to you day and night, 24 hours a day. Our local number here in Tampa, Florida is: 727-451-6900. Our national number is: 833-55-CRASH. We’re a personal injury law firm, but we do handle mass torts on a nationwide basis. Give us a call. We’d love to investigate your claim. We’d be honored to do such. We’ll get back with a very timely response and you can email me anytime at matt, [email protected] D like in David, O-L-M-A-N, law.com. My guest is the esteemed Mike Furdock. I’m Matt Dolman. This wraps up another issue or another episode I should say of the Sibley Dolman Gipe podcast. Thank you.
💡 Meet Your Host 💡
Title: Partner at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
Specialty: Matt is a nationally recognized insurance and personal injury attorney and focuses much of his practice on the litigation of catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.
💡 Featured Guest 💡
Name Mike Furdock
Title: Legal Clerk at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
Specialty: Mike is a Legal Clerk at Dolman Law Group. He is a 3L J.D. Candidate at Stetson University College of Law ‘22. His focus is on trial advocacy with the goal of eventually practicing civil/personal injury litigation to serve those who have been victims of Human Trafficking, catastrophic trauma, and other crimes of sexual abuse and exploitation.
🔑 Relevant Resources 🔑
- Unified Parkinson’s Advocacy Council
- Multi-District Litigation, MDL
- Bellwether trials
- Paraquat Lawsuit: Exposure to Toxic Herbicide Thought to Cause Parkinson’s Disease
The insights and views presented in “David vs. Goliath” are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information presented is not a substitute for consulting with an attorney. Nor does tuning in to this podcast constitute an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Any case result information provided on any portion of this podcast should not be understood as a promise of any particular result in a future case. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers: Big firm results, small firm personal attention.