Paraquat Herbicide Manufacturer Faces First Federal Lawsuits Over Link to Parkinson’s Disease

Fears Nachawati Law Firm represents workers exposed to dangerous chemical 


 SAN FRANCISCO/CHICAGO – Agrochemical giant Syngenta Group ignored and downplayed known risks of its paraquat-based weed killer Gramoxone despite research over decades linking the chemical to neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, according to the first two product defect lawsuits filed against the company in federal court. 


The new lawsuits were filed by Dallas-based Fears Nachawati Law Firm in U.S. District Courts in California and Illinois, alleging that exposure to the herbicide led to the onset of Parkinson’s disease in two men. 


First manufactured in the U.S. in the early 1960s, paraquat products have been widely used to control weeds in orchards and farms. Chinese-owned and based in Switzerland, Syngenta Group includes Syngenta AG, headquartered in Switzerland; ADAMA (SZSE: 000553), based in Israel; and the agricultural businesses of Syngenta Group China. It is the leading manufacturer of paraquat-based herbicides. The lawsuits also name Chevron USA Inc. as a defendant. Chevron has licensed sales of paraquat products from Syngenta. 


Parkinson’s disease is an incurable progressive neurological disorder that affects the motor system, often characterized by tremors, body rigidity and impaired balance. Numerous scientific studies have established links between the chemical and Parkinson’s, including research by the Agricultural Health Study in 2011 that found that people exposed to the chemical were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s. 


According to medical studies, exposure is particularly dangerous because paraquat is easily absorbed by the body, in part because it is commonly applied using handheld sprayers and sprayers attached to airplanes and tractors. In addition, chemicals called surfactants are added to the herbicide to help penetrate the waxy surface of weeds and reach plants at the cellular level. Those same additives increase dangers for human exposure. There’s no known antidote if accidentally swallowed, and ingesting even small amounts can cause death. Risks associated with paraquat have led to it being banned by more than 50 countries. 


Internal documents obtained in related litigation have revealed debates within Syngenta and its corporate predecessor, Imperial Chemical Industries, over measures to make the product less dangerous. 


“Syngenta has taken too long to acknowledge the very real health dangers associated with paraquat,” said Fears Nachawati trial lawyer Majed Nachawati. “It’s time for some real action to protect workers and anyone else who might come into contact with these inherently dangerous products.” 


The cases are Paul Rakoczy v. Syngenta Crop Protection et al., Case No. 4:21-CV-02083, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; and Michael Joseph Kearns et al. v. Syngenta Crop Protection et al., Case No. 3:21-CV-00278, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. 


Dallas-based Fears | Nachawati Law Firm represents individuals in mass tort litigation, businesses and governmental entities in contingent litigation and individual victims in complex personal injury litigation. The largest and most diverse products liability law firm in the nation, Fears | Nachawati was ranked number one nationally in product liability filings in federal court. For more information, visit   


Media Contact: 

Robert Tharp 


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