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Terminix fined $10 million for poisoning family

By Shawn Price
Terminix fined $10 million for poisoning family
Terminix has agreed to a $10 million fine over the use of an illegal pesticide in a building that caused permanent health problems in a family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The company also agreed to stop using the pesticide in the United States and its territories. Photo by sebra/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) -- Terminix will pay $10 million for using an illegal pesticide in the U.S. Virgin Islands that almost killed a family last year, federal officials said.

The family of four from Delaware was vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands when they all became seriously ill after the living unit one floor below them was fumigated.

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Two teenage boys sustained permanent neurological damage and the parents had seizures; the father still has difficulty speaking and is barely able to use his hands.

"Terminix companies knowingly failed to properly manage their pest control operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, allowing pesticides containing methyl bromide to be applied illegally and exposing a family of four to profoundly debilitating injuries," U.S. Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden said in a statement.

The Justice Department said the company agreed to the fine and has stopped using the pesticide in the United States and its territories.

"Tragically, the defendants' failure to [obey environmental laws] resulted in catastrophic injuries to the victims and exposed many others to similar harm," Virgin Islands U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

The company will pay $8 million in criminal fines, $1 million in restitution and $1 million for community service projects, the Justice Department said. The company is also working to resolve the family's medical expenses in a separate civil process.

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The Justice Department said the criminal investigation is continuing.

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