BELLEVILLE – Three farmers more than 80 years old have joined a St. Clair County suit claiming weed killer paraquat caused them to develop Parkinson’s disease.
Belleville lawyer Robert Sprague added them to a suit against Syngenta and Growmark on Oct. 6, by amending a complaint he filed in September.
Plaintiff Carroll Rowan of St. Clair County was born in 1928; plaintiff Jerry Mills of Madison County was born in 1930 and plaintiff Freemon Schmidt of Madison County was born in 1933.
On Oct. 8, two days after he amended the complaint, original plaintiff Thomas Hoffman of Clinton County died at age 63.
Hoffman’s complaint alleged that Syngenta and Growmark manufactured paraquat, distributed it, and sold it as Gramoxone or by other names since 1964.
Sprague wrote that farmers commonly use it to control weeds multiple times a year where they plant multiple crops in a single growing season or year.
He wrote that application methods inevitably result in spray drift and commonly result in spills, splashes and leaks.
“That paraquat is toxic to both plant and animal cells, and that its creation of oxidative stress in cells is the source of its toxicity, have been known to science since at least the 1960s,” he wrote.
“Paraquat is among the handful of toxins that scientists use to produce animal models of Parkinson’s disease.”
He wrote that Hoffmann neither knew nor had any reason to know that it caused his disease or contributed to it until Oct. 7, 2015.
Hoffman’s wife Diana also sought damages.
Their complaint accused Chevron Chemical of acting in concert with Syngenta and Growmark, though Sprague didn’t name it as a defendant.
In the amended complaint, he did.
Sprague added seven plaintiffs besides Rowan, Mills, and Schmidt.
Plaintiff Ronald Niebrugge of Monroe County was born in 1952; plaintiff John Hopkins of Bond County was born in 1967 and plaintiff James Hemker of Clinton County was born in 1952.
He wrote that Niebrugge didn’t know paraquat caused his disease or contributed to it until Nov. 2, 2015.
He wrote that Hopkins didn’t know until Nov. 5, 2015, and Schmidt didn’t know until last Nov. 6.
For Rowan, Mills, and Hemker, he didn’t specify a date for first knowledge.
Sprague, who continues to represent widow Diana Hoffmann, also seeks damages for wives Mary Niebrugge, Betty Schmidt, Judith Hemker and Mary Rowan.
As of Oct. 24, Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson had not assigned a judge.