Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Four Texas Children Die after Exposure to Deadly Pesticide

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Jan 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Early this month, in Amarillo, Texas, four children aged 7 to 17 died after being poisoned by phosphine gas, a gas that the pesticide aluminum phosphide produces when wet. Police say that six other people that were in the house were hospitalized.

The family who resided in the house had previously applied the pesticide, marketed as “Weevilcide,” under their home to kill mice. They later used water to try and wash off the remaining pesticide, causing it to form a deadly gas which entered the home.

First responders were called to the scene at five in the morning, where they discovered ten people in the home, one of whom was dead at the scene. Three others died at the hospital. The responders also went to the hospital for treatment, where several were held for observation.

The active ingredient in the solution, aluminum phosphide, is extremely toxic not only to animals, but also to humans. If someone inhales the gas, it is often fatal. If they survive, they will most likely suffer long term respiratory health issues. Usually, the pesticide requires a license to apply, but one resident in the home acquired the chemical illegally and applied it without sufficient knowledge.

Even when licensed professionals apply these dangerous chemicals, however, they are not always safe. The Environmental Protection Agency has listed aluminum phosphide as a Category I toxin, designating it as one of the most deadly. According to the American Associated of Pesticide Control Centers, there have been 9 deaths caused by the inhalation of this particular compound.

A few years ago, a family in Utah who lost two of their daughters to pesticide poisoning, settled a wrongful death claim for an undisclosed amount against the pesticide company and employee who applied the pesticide. The two girls, age 4 and 15 months respectively, died in February of 2010 from aluminum phosphide. The chemical, in this case, came under the market name of “Fumitoxin” which was applied by Bugman Pest & Lawn to eliminate the voles on the family's property.

In the lawsuit, the family named as defendants the owners of the company, the employee who applied the pesticide, Coleman Nocks, and five others, “who may have sold, provided, distributed or otherwise allowed the other named defendants to possess, acquire, use or apply pesticides … or may have held either an ownership of controlling interest in Bugman.”

The Utah family stated that they wanted to see “that those responsible for this tragedy are held fully accountable, both within the civil and criminal justice system.” The terms of the settlement remain undisclosed.In addition to the settlement, both Nocks and the company faced criminal charges for their unlawful use of a pesticide. Less than two months after the death of the two girls, the EPA prohibited residential use of “Fumitoxin,” the pesticide which caused the deaths.

If you or someone you love has been hurt by another's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work hard to get you the money you deserve to recover. Contact them online, or call their office today at (800) 529-6162. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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