Lawsuits alleging that paraquat exposure led to Parkinson’s disease are currently part of multi-district litigation being litigated in the Southern District of Illinois. In February 2022 the court dismissed public nuisance claims in 316 individual cases involved in the litigation. There have been over 150 more public nuisance claims brought since that time from around the nation against Syngenta and Chevron for their sale of paraquat. The defendants brought a motion to dismiss all public nuisance claims, in all pending cases involved in the multi-district litigation.  The court, attempting to balance judicial economy with the rights of each plaintiff, decided to analyze the public nuisance claim in one of the four trial selection cases.  The court dismissed the public nuisance claim in the trial selection case and deferred ruling on the public nuisance claims with regard to other plaintiffs.

The court analyzed public nuisance under Illinois law. A public nuisance claim in Illinois requires the plaintiff to have a “special injury” compared to “injury sustained by the general public.” The court found that the injury sustained by the plaintiff, specifically Parkinson’s disease, was not a different kind of injury compared to other farmers and rural residents who were exposed to Paraquat. Since the plaintiff could not show a special injury to himself associated to the Paraquat exposure, he does not have standing and his public nuisance claim was dismissed.  

On the issue of the remaining public nuisance claims for other plaintiffs, the court ordered Plaintiff’s leadership counsel to confer with the other plaintiffs and determine whether they will continue to pursue public nuisance claims.

In re Paraquat Products Liability Litigation, No. 3:21-md-3004-NJR (S.D. Ill. June 12, 2023).