Terminix Responsible for Profound Neurological Injuries of Young Delaware Family

What responsibilities does an exterminator have to keep your family safe?

Vacation is supposed to be a safe and pleasant respite from the stresses of everyday life. For one Delaware family it was a horrifying, life-altering nightmare. Steve Esmond, Theresa Devine and their teenage sons ended up being poisoned while on a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands in March 2015. During their trip, the unit below theirs was fumigated, and methyl bromide, a restricted-use pesticide, leaked into their quarters, resulting in the hospitalization of all four members of their family.

Unbeknownst to the family, two Terminix employees, in their attempt to fumigate the unit below the victims at the Sirenusa resort, “taped and sealed” the kitchen area below and released the toxic gas. Apparently, the two workers were unaware that the unit above was inhabited. The methyl bromide seeped into the upper unit and, within a few days, resulted in severe neurological symptoms in all members of the family.

The severity of the symptoms varied among the family members. The boys were hit the hardest and had to be placed in medically induced comas. The father of the family experienced tremors and had difficulty talking. The wife recovered, only to confront the catastrophic health problems of her loved ones.

Nerve damage is notoriously slow to heal and how much healing will occur to those affected in this case is difficult to predict. While the father of the family is slowly progressing, he is still suffering from severe tremors and speech problems and “can’t turn the pages of a book.” His sons, now conscious, are still barely able to move.

The accidental nature of this preventable tragedy does not mitigate the extremity of the family’s pain and suffering, which, according to the father is “like being in a torture chamber.” According to Assistant Attorney General John Cruden, “When misused, highly toxic pesticides can have catastrophic consequences, and that’s why those who are certified to apply them must do so responsibly and lawfully.” Obviously, Terminix failed to do so. As Cruden pointed out, “the Terminix companies knowingly failed to properly manage their pest control operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, allowing pesticides containing methyl bromide to be applied illegally and exposing a family of four to profoundly debilitating injuries.”

While Terminix International Co. and its operation facility in the Virgin Islands have agreed in a plea agreement to pay $10 million in penalties, money can hardly compensate for ongoing pain and suffering of this innocent family, one described by an acquaintance as ” just one of those families that everyone loves to be around.”

Personal injury takes many forms. If you have been injured or made ill by the actions of an individual or a company, getting prompt medical attention is your first need. As soon as possible, however, you should contact a highly competent personal injury attorney to inform you of your legal options and to fight vigorously for your rights. You deserve compensation for your loss of wages, medical costs, and pain and suffering, and possibly damages to discourage egregious negligence such as that evident in the case discussed.