Yet another popular weed killer used by American farmers for decades is becoming a costly liability for the companies behind the chemical.
Over the past seven months, new lawsuits have been filed almost every day claiming farmers or field workers contracted Parkinson’s disease from their exposure to Paraquat, a highly toxic herbicide developed by Syngenta AG and sold in the U.S. by Chevron Corp.
The surge in complaints comes as another company, Bayer AG, has set aside as much as $16 billion to resolve thousands of current cases and prepare for future suits tied to Roundup, the best-selling U.S. weed killer. While it’s still early days in the Paraquat litigation, personal-injury lawyers are blanketing radio, television and social media with ads seeking new clients who could demand billions of dollars in compensation.
“Even if there aren’t the kind of Roundup-level number of cases, I can see these companies offering several billion dollars just to make it go away,” Richard Ausness, a University of Kentucky law professor who specializes in product-liability cases, said of the Paraquat lawsuits. “Parkinson’s disease has a long, expensive tail that will drive up the cost of settling these cases.”