CNN Reports:  New details on family poisoned by pesticide (Terminix) — same chemical used on fruits and vegetables all across America 

Published on Sep 11, 2015

(CNN)As two Delaware teens recovering from pesticide poisoning struggle to eat, walk and sit up on their own, an investigation into what went wrong highlights failures on several levels, including lax oversight and a history of corruption at the U.S. Virgin Islands government agency in charge of exterminators.

The teens and their parents fell gravely ill and suffered seizures during a March vacation to St. John. The family was exposed to methyl bromide, a restricted-use pesticide. Recovery from their nerve damage has been slow and agonizing for the whole family, but it’s been the worst for the boys. The brothers were in medically induced comas for weeks. They are now conscious, family attorney James Maron said, but they are barely able to move.

Six months after the horrifying incident, their father, Steve Esmond, is slowly getting better as well, but suffers from severe tremors, struggles to speak and can’t turn the pages of a book, Maron said.

“Neurologically, it’s like being in a torture chamber,” Maron said.

Esmond and his boys are mentally “strong as an ox” and “100% cognizant,” but they are trapped in bodies badly damaged by the nerve agent, Maron said.

Prior to the incident, the boys were athletic stars at their schools. The older brother had big prospects playing lacrosse and was already touring colleges.

Their mother, Teresa Devine, had less exposure to the toxic gas than the rest of the family and has made the strongest recovery, but she spends her days and nights keeping vigil over her boys.

“They’re extreme fighters, and that’s why they’re hanging on,” Maron said.

The family was on vacation at the Sirenusa resort on St. John when two employees of the local Terminix fumigated the villa below theirs March 18 with methyl bromide, even though it is not approved for residential use. After the family became ill, the Environmental Protection Agency found traces of the lethal gas in their villa.

The exposure was so significant inside the treated unit that 6 weeks after the family fell ill, dangerous amounts of methyl bromide were still being detected inside the rental villa, according to EPA documents.

Methyl bromide is incredibly toxic to humans, said Dr. Reynold Panettieri Jr., the deputy director for the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology.

“I would say the prognosis, at best, is guarded,” said Panettieri, who has not personally treated the family. “As we know the victims have been off ventilators and they’ve been improved. But if that dose, even though it appeared to be acute, was over (a period of) hours, the damage to the nerves and to the brain itself may render it irreversibly damaged.”

Delaware boys in critical condition after resort illness, possibly from pesticide

Maron said Terminix has agreed to enter mediation, done by Ken Feinberg, who negotiated the settlements for the victims of the September 11 attacks. Mediation begins September 28.

New details are emerging about the incident that so drastically sickened the Esmonds. Six others on the islands had mild symptoms of methyl bromide exposure — headache, fatigue, cough and shortness of breath — after the botched March fumigation of the Sirenusa resort. Four of those were emergency workers who helped the Esmond family, according to the EPA.

CNN has also learned that the day the pesticide was applied, an exterminator tented and taped off the treated area of the resort villa with 6-millimeter plastic that the gas should not have been able to penetrate.

A source familiar with the investigation speculated that the plastic could have come loose, and the chemical perhaps traveled through the air-conditioning system. Even so, methyl bromide should not have been used on a residential building in the first place.

The pesticide manufacturer, Chemtura, told CNN that an odor is supposed to be added to methyl bromide before any use, much like the artificial odor added to natural gas so that people can detect it. But family attorney Maron said no odor was added in this instance. Terminix will not comment on that part of the investigation.

CNN previously reported that methyl bromide was used across the islands on different occasions by Terminix. Other pest control companies on the Virgin Islands were found in possession of methyl bromide and officials said they are checking records to see whether it was used improperly. Ken Mapp, the governor of the Virgin Islands, said it was.

“What these companies did or appear to have been doing is clearly a violation of the law, and they’ll be held accountable for it,” Mapp said. He said he learned his own complex was fumigated with methyl bromide in 2013.


Pope holds secret meeting with Delaware family who are still paralyzed six months after being POISONED by PESTICIDES on Caribbean vacation (Terminix)

  • Delaware family of four exposed to methyl bromide from pesticide that was sprayed at Sirenusa resort during March Virgin Islands vacation
  • Mother Teresa Devine has largely recovered, though husband Steve Esmond and their two sons have fared much worse from the exposure 
  • Doctors have said there is little hope for brother Sean, 16, and Ryan ,14, who are no longer in medically induced comas but can barely move
  • Pope Francis had unscheduled meeting with family right before he left the United State via Philadelphia International Airport on Sunday

Amid a busy schedule on his first visit to the United States, Pope Francis took time for a private meeting with a Delaware family who are still paralyzed six months after being poisoned by pesticide on Caribbean vacation.

Steve Esmond, 49, and Dr Theresa Devine, 48, and their two sons Sean, 16, and Ryan ,14, were exposed to the poisonous pesticide methyl bromide after it was sprayed below their Virgin Islands condo.

The parents are still enduring the effects of some of the results of the exposure in late March, but their boys have fared worse and are still barely able to move.

Pope Francis kissed and blessed the family right before departing America for Rome at Philadelphia International Airport.

Before leaving the US, Pope Francis met with a Delaware family of four that was paralyzed by exposure to the toxic chemical methyl bromide on St John in the Virgin Islands. Above, he celebrates Mass on Sunday

Before leaving the US, Pope Francis met with a Delaware family of four that was paralyzed by exposure to the toxic chemical methyl bromide on St John in the Virgin Islands. Above, he celebrates Mass on Sunday

Mother Dr Teresa Devine has cared for the members of her family, though doctors say there is little hope for recovery

Steve Esmond (left), 49, was found unconscious in their Sirenusa resort condominium while his wife Dr Teresa Devine (right), 48, and sons were having seizures due to exposure to the toxic chemical methyl bromide

The meeting was unannounced by confirmed by Brian Tierney, whose company dealt with media for the World Meeting of Families conference that brought the pope to the city, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Esmond family was rushed back to their home in Delaware after becoming dramatically ill because their St John’s condominium had attempted to deal with insects by spraying a pesticide from Terminix in the unit below theirs.

They suffered nerve damage, with father Steve being found unconscious while his wife and sons were having seizures.

Doctors say that the family members affected worst by the toxic chemicals will never fully recover.

Devine, a dentist, is now in good condition physically, and her husband, an administrator at the private Tatnall School in Wilmington, is slowly getting better but struggles to speak, CNN reported earlier this month.

Sean and Ryan, who were once known for their skill at lacrosse, are now out of medically-induced comas that lasted for weeks, but have not yet made the strides seen by their parents.

Brothers Sean (pictured), 16, and Ryan, 14, were once known for their skill at lacrosse but now are barely able to move because of nerve damageThe young men are now out of medically-induced comas that lasted for weeks, though doctors say there is little hope for their recovery

Brothers Sean (left), 16, and Ryan (right), 14, were once known for their skill at lacrosse but now are barely able to move because of nerve damage

The resort where the Esmonds stayed (pictured) is entering into mediation on Monday, which will be conducted by the lawyer who mediated for victims of 9/11

Their mother Teresa has cared for them, though they still can barely move, cannot eat and cannot walk alone.

‘Neurologically, it’s like being in a torture chamber,’ family lawyer James Maron said.

Methyl bromide is illegal in many countries because of concerns about ozone depletion as well as health effects, but the US allows it for agricultural and quarantine uses.

Those using methyl bromide are supposed to add an odor to it so that humans can be aware of the danger.

CNN’s report detailed a lack of training and empty sections of paperwork in the Esmond case, though the man who sprayed the pesticide would not have been taught how to spray methyl bromide because it is not supposed to be used in residences.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department have opened an investigation into use of the pesticide in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The Terminix worker who applied the pesticide at the Esmond’s condo is on administrative leave.

Mediation between Terminix and the family begins Monday and will be done by Ken Feinberg, who mediated settlements for the victims of 9/11.

Pope Francis departed the US on Sunday after a trip to Washington, New York and Philadelphia that saw thousands of people line the streets to see him as he traveled between meetings with dignitaries and the needy

Pope Francis departed the US on Sunday after a trip to Washington, New York and Philadelphia that saw thousands of people line the streets to see him as he traveled between meetings with dignitaries and the needy.

Mark Bello, Esq. | October 1, 2015

Toxic Time Bombs – MRI Reveals Brain Damage (Terminix)

Although pesticides are intended to harm only the target – the pest – humans are being harmed by overuse, misuse, and even lawful use of these toxic chemicals.

Two days after their home was fumigated for termites, the family was told it was safe to go back inside. Within a few hours, the whole family began vomiting. While the parents and their 7-year-old daughter recovered, their son became worse. According to a family member, he had uncontrollable muscle spasms, impaired speech, and could not stand. Suspecting that he was poisoned by the termite treatment chemicals, the family rushed the child to a local hospital where he spent 10 days in the intensive care unit. An MRI revealed he has brain damage.

The child has since been transferred to another children’s hospital where he has a daily regimen of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Though there are pauses when he wants to speak, he is beginning to verbally communicate with words and short sentences. He is unable to stabilize his own body to sit or stand on his own, so the child needs 24/7 care as he is a fall risk. Although progressing slowly, the extent in which he will improve is still unknown. He could continue to improve over the next weeks, months, even years or today could be the extent of his recovery.

The State Department of Agriculture issued a “stop work order” against Sunland Pest Control from performing any fumigations while the investigation continues into what made the child sick. Sunland is the subcontractor of Terminix who conducted the fumigation at the family home.

The family has filed a lawsuit against because Terminix and Sunland Pest Control because Terminix has not responded to their questions about what happened. According to the lawsuit, a different chemical from what the family was told was used to fumigate the home. The suit also alleges that the subcontractor put too much of the chemical in the home and failed to ventilate the house before the family was told they could return.

This is not the first time (for) Terminix has faced accusations involving fumigation injuries; it is also not the first lawsuit. Earlier this year, a Delaware family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands was hospitalized after they were exposed to the toxic chemical methyl bromide at their resort. The chemical was applied to a vacant unit directly beneath the family’s unit at the resort. The use of the pesticide, which can cause damage to the central nervous system and respiratory system, is banned for residential use in 1984. The EPA, Justice Department, and authorities in the Virgin Islands are investigating how and why banned methyl bromide was used by the Terminix at the resort.

All four family members were taken to a Philly hospital; two teen boys suffered seizures. A doctor said that all though a “meaningful recovery” is still possible for the teens, “the potential for meaningful survival and living independently is going to become less and less likely as time passes—it ultimately comes down to how much of the poison they breathed in, and for how long.”

The same week the Florida family filed their lawsuit, a 27-year-old woman from West Palm Beach filed a lawsuit against Terminix. She alleges that while working as a security guard for New Bay Club, she was sprayed by an insecticide being used to spray for ants in the attic. The woman said she experienced chemical burning from the insecticide which has left her in a wheelchair and unable to walk on her own. She also lost most feeling in her legs and suffers from neurological problems. The New Bay Club and BASF, the manufacturer of the pesticide are also named as defendants.

For years, pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health hazards, ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to acute poisoning, cancer, neurological damage, birth defects, suppressed immune systems, lung damage, and dysfunction of the immune systems. Yet, these dangerous toxins are still used in our schools, parks, homes, and more. Children are more vulnerable to pesticide poisonings because they spend more time close to the ground or floor where pesticides are applied and their developing bodies may not break down some chemicals as effectively as adults. There is now considerable scientific evidence that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 12, and childhood exposure to some of the most common pesticides on the market may greatly impact the development of the central nervous system. Because they have not developed their immune systems, nervous systems, or detoxifying mechanisms completely, children are less capable of fighting the introduction of toxic pesticides into their systems.

According to the EPA, by their very nature, most pesticides create some risk of harm. So what is the solution? The first step is to determine if you really need a pesticide. Like humans, pests need food, water, and shelter to survive.

If you or someone you know becomes ill from pesticide exposure, call 9-1-1, seek medical help, or call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately. Tell them that you may have been exposed to a pesticide and include as much information as possible about what happened. To report possible pesticide misuse, contact your County Agricultural Commissioner’s office.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

Pesticides and Chagas MUST be Considered in ALL Settlements


October 6, 2015 | The Baltimore Sun |Carrie Wells

Family awarded more than $90,000 for bedbug infested apartment

A Baltimore landlord must pay more than $90,000 to a family after they briefly moved into an apartment infested with bedbugs, a jury ruled last week.

The decision Friday against the landlord, K.S.A. Investments, includes $18,000 in compensatory damages and $72,525 in punitive damages.

Daniel W. Whitney, an attorney at Towson-based Whitney & Bogris, said the family moved into an apartment in 2013 that had been treated for bedbugs several days before. They found bedbugs still in the apartment their first night there. Even after the apartment was sprayed with pesticides the next day, the infestation remained.

Representatives for Baltimore-based K.S.A. Investments could not be reached for comment. Whitney, who has represented clients in previous bedbug cases, said it is believed to be the largest such verdict in Baltimore.