Poisoned in Paradise: Family Sickened by Pesticide May Receive $87 Million Payout
The family was exposed to methyl bromide while vacationing in Virgin Islands.
By PAUL BLAKE
August 1, 2016, 6:42 PM
• 3 min read
-- A Delaware family severely poisoned by pesticides while on a vacation to the Virgin Islands could receive as much as $87 million in a settlement from ServiceMaster, the parent of pest control company Terminix, according to the company’s recent financial filings.
Teenagers Sean and Ryan Esmond both suffered seizures and landed in the hospital in critical condition after exposure to methyl bromide — a powerful, nearly odorless neurotoxin that was banned from indoor residential use by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1984 — according to the agency. Their parents, Stephen Esmond and Theresa Devine, were also severely injured from the exposure and required rehabilitation therapy, according to a statement last year by the family’s lawyer.
The family members were on their first night of vacation in 2015 when they fell ill. It turned out that a condo below the one that they rented had been sprayed with the pesticide to “deal with an indoor bug,” EPA spokeswoman Judith Enck said in an interview with ABC News last year. The teens had seizures, and the whole family had to be airlifted back to the mainland United States for treatment, she said.
In financial statements filed July 28, ServiceMaster said that it expected to make the $87 million payment as part of a “tentative settlement agreement” and that the company has already paid $3 million related to the family’s claims.
The company also noted that it entered into a plea agreement on July 21 after a Department of Justice investigation. Under the agreement, ServiceMaster will pay fines, provide community service and pay up to $10 million in government costs.
“The superseding plea agreement is subject to the approval of the court at a hearing scheduled for Aug. 25, 2016, and, if approved, will resolve the federal criminal consequences associated with the DOJ investigation,” ServiceMaster’s filing said.
ABC News’ Shahriar Rahmanzadeh and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.