After a 14-year fight, a jury awarded more than $23 million to a family poisoned by misapplication of a then-legal indoor pesticide. The lawsuit was filed in 1996, two years after the family moved into an apartment building in New Albany, Indiana. Several months after the family moved in, the two children, aged 5 months and 3 years, were hospitalized for seizures. The family moved from the apartment when their lease expired, and the Indiana State Chemist’s office tested the apartment, finding pesticide residues. During the family’s time at the apartment complex, the complex fired its professional pest control service and began using its own personnel to apply pesticides. The jury found that misapplication of pesticide caused toxic exposure leading to serious health problems for the children. The three-year old, now 20, is severely developmentally disabled. According to her mother, “she can’t dress herself, undress herself, brush her teeth, brush her hair, shower herself–basically everything but feeding has to be done by somebody else.” The 5-month old, now 17, is academically and socially delayed.
This lawsuit should give pause to people advocating the use of propoxur against bed bugs in Ohio. Although bed bugs seem to be resistant to many pesticides, propoxur is very effective at killing them. Propoxur, like the pesticide used in the Indiana case–Creal-O, used to be legal for indoor use, but has since been banned from “use on residential use sites, including schools, day care facilities, motels, hotels, and other indoor locations where children may be present.” This action followed hundreds of reported incidents of toxic exposure to children. In the short term toxic exposure causes children to pass out. Long-term, children may suffer neurological damage.
Now, though, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is looking for an exemption to use propoxur indoors to target the bed bug epidemic. The problem with propoxur is that EPA formulas show that the levels of the chemical needed to control bed bugs would also pose serious risk to children. Furthermore, it is unlikely to work for long. As with other pesticides, bed bugs would likely develop a resistance within a short time, while the families and children who suffered propoxur poisoning would have to live with the consequences for a lifetime.
However, the EPA ban is not stopping some people from misusing pesticides. Pest control services, businesses, and individuals desperate to control bed bug infestations have been found to be using pesticides in unapproved ways.
If you or your family has suffered as a result of toxic or inappropriate use of pesticides, the Ohio personal injury lawyers of Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA can help. Please contact us for a free initial case evaluation.