Terminix to Pay $9.2 Million for Pesticide Use That Nearly Killed Family

(CN) – Terminix will pay $9.2 million in criminal fines stemming from the company’s use of a banned pesticide that nearly killed a Delaware family vacationing in the Caribbean in March 2015, the Justice Department announced.

The company was sentenced Monday, two years after the Esmond family of Delaware fell ill.

Federal prosecutors said Terminix admitted to using a pesticide called methyl bromide at 14 locations – including at the Sirenusa condominium resort in St. John where the Esmonds were vacationing.

The pesticide, which is odorless and can severely damage the central nervous and respiratory systems, has been banned for indoor use by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1984.

A Terminix worker sprayed the pesticide in the condo below where the family was staying during an eight-day vacation. Steve Esmond; his wife, Dr. Theresa Divine; and their two sons became ill two days later.

“An entire family suffered horrendous and life-altering injuries. We will continue to aggressively enforce environmental laws to help prevent something like this from ever happening again,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Joycelyn Hewlett for the District of the Virgin Islands in a written statement.

Months after the incident, the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands announced Esmond and his sons were in serious to critical condition and had suffered neurological damage.

In addition to the $8 million in fines, Terminix will pay $1 million in restitution to the Environmental Protection Agency for response and clean-up costs at the St. John resort.

The sentencing announcement said Terminix has already made “full restitution” to the family, but did not attach a dollar amount.

However, published reports based on financial filings by Terminix’s parent company suggested a settlement nearing $90 million was in the works.

James Robinson, Manager of Corporate Communications for Terminix, said in a statement that the company reached a settlement with the affected family, and they were paid in full.

“We have taken the lessons learned here to heart. We have devoted significant resources to improving our policies, procedures, training, and environmental management systems, here and nationwide.  We are working cooperatively with the Environmental Protection Agency on this exercise,” Robinson said.

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