Terminix fined $10M after pesticide sickened Delaware family at St. John resort

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Terminix has reached a deal with the federal government to pay $10 million after a vacationing family from Delaware was nearly killed at a U.S. Virgin Islands resort last year.

In March 2015, Stephen Esmond, his wife Theresa Devine, and their two teenage sons became sick while staying at a resort in St. John.

Virgin Islands U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said the case highlights the need to comply with environmental laws.

"Tragically, the defendants' failure to do so resulted in catastrophic injuries to the victims and exposed many others to similar harm," he said.

The government says Terminix was using methyl bromide, even though it was banned for residential applications by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1984.

Authorities determined the chemical was used at a vacation unit below the one the family had rented.

The sons are still recovering and have permanent neurological damage, while their parents had to undergo therapy.

Justice Department officials said Terminix will make a good faith effort to resolve the family's medical expenses through a separate civil process as part of a three-year probation.

They added that the criminal investigation was continuing.

Federal authorities also are investigating the use of methyl bromide in Puerto Rico. Earlier this month, the EPA filed complaints against a pest control company and two businessmen in that U.S. territory.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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