Op-Ed: I’m a Lawyer with Deep Roots in Agriculture: Here’s Why I’m Suing the Manufacturers of Paraquat

by Colter Brown

By Joe Cook


My background and heritage are in production agriculture across Montana, the Dakotas and Wyoming. I am named after my grandfathers- Joseph Cook and Patrick Goggins- both of whom dedicated their lives to production agriculture. My Montana State FFA and American FFA degrees hang beside my law degree on my office wall.

With my background, I am not one to be critical of producers utilizing the tools they need and that are available. Quite to the contrary, I know better than most the vital role that herbicides play in keeping farms and ranches producing. What I am highly critical of, however, are corporate board rooms that put profits ahead of full disclosure and the bottom line above the safety and welfare of us and our neighbors.

Paraquat (commonly sold as Gramoxone) is the “blue” herbicide that has been used by farmers and ranchers for decades to burndown fields and control invasive weeds. Today, as it has for decades, the warning label on Paraquat products tells users that ingesting Paraquat “may be fatal.” What is egregious is what the warning label omits—that numerous studies have linked long-term Paraquat exposure to Parkinson’s disease and disabling neurological degeneration. Parkinson’s is a disabling, degenerative disease for which there are few good treatments, and no known cure. In other words, Paraquat doesn’t just kill, it tortures. And you don’t have to drink it to get sick, you simply have to be exposed to it over time.

Before you spray the next tank of Paraquat, or as you care for a loved one who was exposed to Paraquat out in the field and now suffers from Parkinson’s disease, I would like you to consider the following: (1) Paraquat is banned in over 32 countries including the European Union, Switzerland and China, (2) Paraquat exposure mimics Parkinson’s so well in mice that it is actually used to model the disease in lab studies, (3) people exposed to Paraquat in their teens and young adult years have up to a 600% increased risk of developing Parkinson’s.

Now that the truth about Paraquat’s lethal link to Parkinson’s disease has been released, hundreds, and soon to be thousands, of lawsuits have been filed. Those lawsuits are all being consolidated before a single judge in Illinois. If you or a loved one suffers from Parkinson’s disease and was exposed to Paraquat, the time to act is now, because the window to hold the manufacturer accountable is closing.


Joe Cook is a partner at Heenan & Cook in Billings, Montana www.lawmontana.com.  Mr. Cook is one of the top trial lawyers in Montana, and was named the 2021 Montana Trial Lawyer of the Year. Joe has dedicated his legal career to fighting for Montanans- particularly those in rural Montana.

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J albers

Linked to? Please show proof or you are just another ambulance chaser

R Oraw

I put my 39th crop in this year. I’ve used glyphosate since 1996 and Gramoxone since 2014. I’ve always used protective clothing and just turned 65 with no health issues what so ever. I’ve witnessed neighbor’s and commercial applicators over the years taking little or no precautions using herbicides. They have looked at the warning labels and chose to take little or no precautions which is their choice. Did anybody testify that Dewayne Johnson the California school grounds keeper wore protective clothing at all times? Is not using safety gear the fault of the herbicide company? I had two of my best friends killed in a high speed car accident. They knew that speed and no seat belts are linked to traffic deaths. Should their families have filed suit against the parts manufacture that my friend used to build his muscle car? They weren’t wearing seat belts. Should they have filed suit against the car manufacture which stated in the owners manual that seat belts save lives? They watched multiple commercials that speed kills and seat belts save lives. It was their choice to ignore the warnings. My 68 year old non farming friend that weights 350 lbs had a stroke a few years back, a heart attack a year ago and now the poor fella was diagnosed with cancer. He has seen how many commercials that state obesity is linked with strokes, heart attacks and cancer. He has chosen not to exercise and eat healthy. Should he file suit against the food manufacturer that put the sugar and salt in the food that he eaten over the years? I have many lawyer friends and have nothing against lawyers-the problem is we are over populated with lawyers. Put a search in and see how many lawyers are in Yellowstone, Cascade and Missoula counties, let alone the US. With those numbers consequently they are hungry because of not enough work to go around. They are forced into these bottom feeding practices to survive. I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe we need to close law schools for ten years or so to let things even up. Turn the schools into Vo-tech centers for HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and carpentry & construction. As far as the law school professors, put them into our public schools to teach math science and English. My daughter is a school counselor so I know the need for teachers. As far as Parkinsons I know firsthand about the condition. My brother-in-law who owns a liquor store in western Montana was diagnosed four years ago with Parkinsons. He is now in a wheelchair and slowly losing the battle. He has never been exposed to Gramoxone. Bottom line is if the American farmer losses either Glyphosate or Gramoxone our cost of production and farming practices will be greatly affected. Also we are footing the bill for these thoughtless lawsuits. The chemical companies are passing on the million dollar cost of the lawsuits by increasing the cost of the herbicide to the farmer. Why should we have pay for someone else’s carelessness. Yes we do need lawyers but not one on every street corner, and we certainly don’t need them contributing to the demise of the American farmer.

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