Terminix to Pay $10M for Poisoning Entire Family

(Editor’s note: A family here in Florida is also suing Terminix because their son was severely injured. I would not feel safe using them myself- ever. Terminix has released statements about both of these horrible tragic cases and sounded far more defensive than apologetic or sympathetic, which is despicable.)

It was announced yesterday that Terminix, the pest control company, will pay $10 million because of the allegations that they illegally sprayed a toxic pesticide which nearly killed a Delaware family who were vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands last year; the family may not recover.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Terminix has admitted to using a banned pesticide, called methyl bromide, at 14 of their locations (of which one was the Sirenusa Condo resort in St. John where the family was vacationing). Methyl bromide is odorless and can damage the central nervous and respiratory system. It’s been banned for indoor use by the EPA since 1984. And it was only after the government began its investigation, that Terminix voluntarily ceased their use of the toxic substance (bravo). It’s still used at one government contract at the Port of Baltimore. And why that is, I have no idea.

Using a fumigation treatment for Powder Post Beetles, a common problem in the islands- and using the “tape and seal” method (where the affected area is sealed and customers stay out for two to three days)- the Terminix employee worked on the condo under the one the Esmond family was using. They fell ill two days later.


Months later, the governor of the Virgin Islands said Steve Esmond and his sons were still in serious to critical condition and had suffered neurological damage. In fact, their condition was so serious that the Pope even paused to bless them during his trip to Philadelphia in September.

From the article:

“U.S. Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe of the District of the Virgin Islands said in a statement that the prosecution demonstrates the importance of complying with environmental regulations. ‘Tragically, the defendants’ failure to do so resulted in catastrophic injuries to the victims and exposed many others to similar harm,” he said.”

Because of the attention the story received, the Justice Department and EPA got involved, later charging Terminix with multiple violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

In a plea agreement, which is subject to approval by a U.S. District Court judge, Terminix and its U.S. Virgin Islands counterpart will pay $8 million in fines, $1 million for a community service project in the U.S. Virgin Islands and $1 million in restitution to the EPA for response and cleanup costs at the St. John resort. They also will make a good faith effort to take care of past and future medical expenses for the family via separate civil proceedings. The company is also on probation for three years.

I worked for a watch dog group for four years and a big part of our goal was to get the EPA to actually do their job. After those four years I concluded that the government agency is pretty much useless and owned by corporations. I think they are guilty of unimaginable and unethical tactics.

Officials said the criminal investigation is ongoing.

Source: Delaware Online