23 Jun, 2022

Six Paraquat Parkinson’s Lawsuits To Be Prepared For Trial Dates Unlikely to Start Until Mid-2023

Posted by : Irvin Jackson

A new amended discovery schedule will delay the start of the first Paraquat Parkinson’s disease lawsuit trial dates, which were previously expected to begin in November 2022.

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all Paraquat Parkinson’s lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system has issued an amended discovery schedule, which will push back the start of the first bellwether trials until at least mid-2013, despite initial plans for the first case to go before a jury later this year.

There are currently about 1,300 product liability lawsuits filed against Syngenta and Chevron in the federal courts, each raising similar allegations that the companies manufactured and sold Paraquat-based herbicides for decades, without warning about the link between Paraquat and Parkinson’€™s disease, which research has found may develop years after regularly spraying, mixing, transporting or handling the weed killer.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the litigation, the federal cases have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel in the Southern District of Illinois, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation.

To help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be presented throughout the litigation, the Court previously set an aggressive schedule that anticipated the first Paraquat Parkinson’s trial dates going before a jury on November 15, 2022. However, as pre-trial preparations continue in a small group of claims, and a growing number of new Paraquat lawsuits continue to be filed by former users diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, various discovery deadlines have been extended.

As part of the bellwether process, a group of 16 Paraquat Parkinson’s cases were selected which have been going through case-specific discovery in preparation for the first trial dates. Six of those lawsuits have been identified as “trial selection cases”, which will go through full expert discovery and pretrial motions before the first jury trials begin.

In an Amended Discovery Schedule Order (PDF) issued on June 17, Judge Rosenstengel indicated plaintiffs’ general and specific expert disclosures must be submitted by October 14, 2022, and all depositions of those experts will be completed by November 18. Defendants’ expert disclosures are then due by December 2, 2022, with plaintiffs’ having the opportunity to identify rebuttal expert disclosures by January 20, 2023.

Following the conclusion of this expert discovery, the Court indicates additional deadlines related to any Daubert motions, challenging the admissibility of these expert opinions at trial, will be set at a later date. The first trials will not begin until rulings have been issued on those motions.

“[T]he Court reiterates its intent to have all six trial selection cases fully worked up for trial,” Judge Rosenstengel wrote in the order. “At this time, the Court does not plan to further reduce the number of cases in the trial pool. The Court advises counsel to proceed accordingly.”

While the outcome of these bellwether trials will not have any binding impact on other plaintiffs, they will be closely watched by all parties involved, and are expected to greatly influence any Paraquat settlement offers the manufacturers may make to avoid hundreds of individual cases later being remanded back for separate trial dates in U.S. District Courts nationwide.

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