Pest-control giant Terminix offers $87M settlement to family left paralyzed by fumes that exterminators left in their luxury Caribbean vacation condo

  • Terminix offered to pay $87 million after a family of four nearly died from the company’s use of pesticide methyl bromide
  • Methyl bromide has been banned for more than 30 years and is considered a potential neurotoxin
  • Steve Esmond, his wife, Dr Theresa Devine, and the couple’s sons Ryan and Sean all suffered catastrophic damage due to the toxin
  • Steve, Ryan and Sean are all paralyzed and Sean is ‘in and out’ of a coma




The parent company of pest-control giant Terminix has reached a tentative agreement to pay $87 million to a Delaware family injured by exposure to a banned pesticide during a Caribbean vacation. Citing information from an earnings report filed Thursday by ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc, The Philadelphia Inquirer1 reports that the company has agreed to pay the Esmond family $87 million.

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Steve Esmond (left) and Dr Theresa Devine (right), along with their sons, nearly died while vacationing in St Johns after Terminix used a deadly pesticide on the floor below theirs

That is in addition to $3million it has paid to cover its insurance deductible. Stephen Esmond became paralyzed in March 2015 soon after checking into a condo on St. John that was located above another unit in which Terminix exterminators had sprayed an odorless neurotoxin called methyl bromide.

The couple’s sons Sean (pictured left) and Ryan (pictured right) have permanent brain damage due to the negligent use of the chemicals

His teenage sons remained in critical condition for weeks after the exposure. Ryan, the youngest, is paralyzed from the neck down with no control of his limbs, though he is aware of what has happened. His older brother Sean was ‘in and out of a coma’, had no sensation in his limbs, and could not move his body.

The boys are now conscious but can barely move, family attorney James Maron told CNN2. Before the accident, both boys were star athletes in their schools. Sean, who played lacrosse, was already touring colleges, according to the station. Their father Steve, head of a private middle school in Wilmington, was paralyzed and ‘must be strapped in to even sit’.

Now he suffers from tremors and can’t speak well or turn the pages of a book, Maron told CNN.

‘Neurologically, it’s like being in a torture chamber,’ Maron told the news outlet. The family had been vacationing at this condo in St. John when they were exposed to the toxic pesticide

The EPA banned methyl bromide for residential applications way back in 1984

The most improvement has been seen in their mother Theresa, a dentist, who was described as being in a ‘good condition.’

She now watches over her family.

‘They’re extreme fighters, and that’s why they’re hanging on,’ Maron told CNN.

The pest control company was charged with illegally using methyl bromide at the resort and 13 residential locations across the U.S. Virgin Islands in recent years. The U.S. Justice Department said Terminix agreed to pay the fine and has stopped using the pesticide on the U.S. mainland and in its territories.

Terminix exterminators sprayed an odorless neurotoxin called methyl bromide that left the family in a ‘neurological torture chamber’

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. Exterminators should have used a version of the pesticide with an odor, similarly to how an odor is added to natural gas so people can know it is there and get out

The Esmond family had rented a second-floor condominium at Sirenusa, a resort of 22 villas, last year. The pesticide was used March 28, 2015 on the condominium’s first floor, and agents are trying to determine how much was employed.

The EPA found that methyl bromide was used at other Sirenusa units last year, but couldn’t reveal how many. Sea Glass Vacations LLC, which rents units at Sirenusa, said in a statement last year that it had terminated its contract with Terminix and the townhome under investigation is unoccupied. The Environmental Protection Agency banned methyl bromide for residential applications in 1984.

But an investigation by U.S. authorities in the Virgin Islands found the chemical was used at 12 residential units in St Croix and another one in St. Thomas between September 2012 and February 2015. It also was used at the Sirenusa Condominium Resort in St.

John last year. 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. The Esmond family had rented a second-floor condominium at Sirenusa, a resort of 22 villas

Steve Esmond and his family were staying in a luxury Virgin Islands villa when they were paralyzed

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.


  1. ^ The Philadelphia Inquirer (
  2. ^ CNN (

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