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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

Fumigant Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settled

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The wide use of pesticides is having serious health ramifications on humans and children are particularly susceptible. Pesticides can cause cancer, affect neurological systems, memory, and cause a host of other problems; even death. Isn’t the mere fact that pesticides are designed to kill living organisms enough to give one concern? Maybe it will after you hear this story.

A Utah family recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit in the death of two young girls, ages 4 and 15 months, who died from pesticide poisoning nearly two years ago. Authorities said the toxic gas phosphine most likely entered the home through cracks and crevices in the structure.

Bugman Pest and Lawn put out poison bait, not Fumitoxin, at the home several months prior to the incident. When the family experienced more pest problems, they called the company again. The technician sent to the home determined the infestation was severe and decided to use Fumitoxin, placing the pellets alongside a sidewalk leading to the front porch, coming within about 7 feet of the front door and 3 feet of the garage; a hazardous materials cleanup team said the pellets should not be used in burrows that come within 15 feet of a home. Additionally, the Fumitoxin manual recommends 10 to 20 pellets per burrow, but the technician did not know how many pellets he used or burrows he treated. He recorded the amount on the invoice in pounds rather than pellets which is also a deviation from company norms.

The lawsuit alleged that the girls died after their hearts shut down within four days of a Fumitoxin application. The suit sought unspecified damages, claiming negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, nuisance and abnormally dangerous activity. As settlement discussions began, the owner of the Bugman Pest and Lawn of Bountiful and a former employee changed their pleas to “guilty”. Attorneys on both sides filed court papers ending the civil suit; terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

When homeowners hire pesticide service companies, they have a right to expect that the company and its representatives will follow the rules and regulations governing the application of the pesticides they are using. When that trust is broken, tragic cases like this one happen.

Several months after the accident, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlawed the use of aluminum phosphide, the active ingredient in Fumitoxin, around homes and other occupied buildings. In addition, the state’s pesticide program updated its training program for anyone licensed to use registered pesticides and increases "buffer zones" for the poison's application near any non-residential building that could be occupied by people or animals. More detailed labeling is also designed to provide better protection for the public.

This lawsuit is a harsh reality about the importance of safety standards, training, and warning labels on pesticides. But what is the consumer to do when hiring a professional pesticide company? Ask what product(s) will be used and all the ingredients. Take the time to research the pesticide and learn all the risks. To learn more about the hazards of chemicals in pesticides, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website.

Across the country, lawsuits are being filed to compensate families and to ensure that companies take steps to prevent serious injuries and deaths. The single most important safety device against corporate America is the threat of a lawsuit. Fight back for your safety and the safety of your loved ones.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.