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  • Erin Jewell

Why Was John Dutton So Mad About Paraquat?

In the Season 5 Premiere of Yellowstone, the show flashes back to a young John Dutton becoming furious when he realizes that his cattle are dying because a developer is applying the herbicide, Paraquat, to the land surrounding the Yellowstone Dutton ranch. In the episode, Dutton becomes increasingly angry, demanding answers about the sickly and dying cattle. Despite the developer’s claim to Dutton that Paraquat is “EPA regulated,” fans of the show know that that argument didn’t carry much weight with Dutton when it came to the safety of his cattle.

Why was Paraquat making Dutton’s cattle die? Paraquat is a highly toxic herbicide used commercially in the United States. It has been used commercially since 1965 as a herbicide, defoliant, desiccant and plant growth regulator. It is sold under a variety of names, including: Cekupat, Dextron X, Dextrone, Gramoxone, Herbaxon, Herboxone, Pillarxone, Pillarquat, Total, and Toxer as well as the trade names Esgram, Goldquat, Dexuron, Sweep, and Weedol. Paraquat was also sold under the code names PP-148 and PP-910.

Paraquat is restricted for commercial use only, but farmers and agricultural workers are at a high risk for exposure, as are those who live close to industrial farms. Unfortunately, Paraquat is extremely poisonous and has been responsible for fatal poisonings in humans and animals. In humans, Paraquat has been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, which is a chronic and progressive brain disorder that affects movement over time. Some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include: tremors (hand or other), prolonged or extreme stiffness, loss of balance, difficulty walking, difficulty speaking, drooling, trembling, anxiety, hallucinations, whole body fatigue, and more. While Paraquat can only be applied by licensed applicators, farmers, farm workers and others in agriculture as well as those who lived close to farms where Paraquat was applied, are at an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. There is also plenty of evidence that even a small amount of Paraquat can be toxic if ingested.

In Yellowstone, Dutton’s cattle likely ingested Paraquat-contaminated vegetation and Paraquat-contaminated water, from what appeared to be widespread application to execute the developer’s plans to build a cell phone tower. While Dutton’s methods of exacting justice on the show make for good television, at Harty Jewell, we of course don’t condone those methods and would urge clients who have been injured or harmed as a result of Paraquat to seek their day in court instead of taking matters into their own hands. Lawsuits filed by hundreds of agricultural workers are currently proceeding against Syngenta and Chevron USA in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois for Paraquat marketed under the brand name Gramoxone.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after being exposed to Paraquat, call Harty Jewell, PLLC at 757-568-9633 or reach out to us here: for a free consultation.

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