Terminix offers $87 million settlement to Delaware family sickened by pesticide

The corporate parent of Terminix has reached a tentative agreement to pay $87 million to a Wilmington family sickened by dangerous pesticides at a vacation condominium in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

That is on top of $3 million the company already has paid, an amount equal to its insurance deductible, according to an earnings report filed Thursday by ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc. of Memphis, Tenn. The company's insurance carriers also have paid the family an amount not disclosed in the filing.

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. His teenage sons were hit hard as well, and remained in critical condition for weeks after the exposure.

Their mother, dentist Theresa Devine, fared better and was discharged soon after the exposure. The family was airlifted to Philadelphia hospitals for treatment.

Neither the company nor James J. Maron, an attorney who was representing the family, responded to a request for comment Friday.

Last September, the family met Pope Francis during his visit to Philadelphia. At that time, Esmond, an administrator at the Tatnall School in Wilmington, still suffered from tremors, struggled to speak, and had difficulty turning the pages of books, Maron told CNN.

The boys - who had been students and athletes at Tatnall - spent weeks in medically induced comas. They were conscious but could barely move, Maron told CNN last year.

Methyl bromide was banned for indoor residential use in 1984, though some agricultural uses are permitted.

Terminix International USVI and Terminix International Co. L.P., both ServiceMaster subsidiaries, also have entered a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The plea calls for the first subsidiary to pay a fine to the federal government in the range of $800,000 to $5 million, while the second subsidiary would pay a fine in the range of $800,000 to $3 million, according to the ServiceMaster earnings report.

Terminix USVI also agreed to pay $1 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the cost of cleaning up the condos. The other subsidiary would make a "community service payment" of $500,000 to $2 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the exact amount to be imposed by the court.

tavril@phillynews.com215-854-2430

@TomAvril1