Terminix fined $10 million for poisoning family with pesticide


The U.S. Justice Department ordered pest control company Terminix to pay $10 million after illegally spraying a pesticide and nearly killing a Delaware family.

The News Journal reported that the company sprayed the toxic pesticide in a condo below the one where the family was staying while vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Terminix admitted to using the odorless pesticide called methyl bromide at 14 locations — including the resort the family stayed at in March 2015.

The Environmental Protection Agency has banned the use of the substance indoors since 1984.

The family — Steve Esmond, his wife, Dr. Theresa Divine, and their two sons spent eight nights at the resort.

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Details about the incident

Two days after the pesticide was sprayed, the family became sick and was hospitalized, suffering seizures.

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp said Esmond and his sons suffered neurological damage.

CNN reported in September that the family’s teen sons continue to struggle to sit up, eat and walk on their own.

The family’s attorney, James Maron, said the brothers were barely able to move and their father, Steve Esmond, suffers from severe tremors.

Maron said Theresa Divine had the least amount of exposure to the pesticide and is recovering the strongest, according to CNN.


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Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said that while the company is on a three-year probation, it is required to show the EPA they have made changes to ensure this does not happen again.

They are also required to make good faith efforts through a separate civil proceeding to resolve the family’s past and future medical costs.

The Justice Department said in a news release Tuesday that the $10 million fine includes $8 million in criminal fines, $1 million in a community service payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for training in pesticide application in the U.S. Virgin Islands and $1 million in restitution to the EPA for cleanup costs.

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