Nathan and Brenda Toone suffered the unthinkable loss of two of their daughters to alleged pesticide poisoning within days after taking care of the seemingly routine home maintenance task of using an exterminator.
The Toones hired Bugman Pest and Lawn, Inc. to take care of voles, which had established themselves in the family’s lawn at their Layton, UT home. Bugman employee Cole Nocks buried poisonous Fumitoxin pellets, a phosphide-based rodent killer, in the yard. Within a day, Rebecca, age 4, and Rachel, 15 months, fell ill.
A carbon monoxide alarm went off in the family’s home on Friday, February 5, 2010. The fire department found only trace amounts of carbon monoxide and cleared the family to go inside. By Saturday, Rebecca’s symptoms worsened, she developed breathing problems, then cardiac arrest at a local hospital. Rachel was in critical condition in a children’s hospital by Monday night. Rachel passed away Tuesday, February 9, 2010.
Autopsy results showed the girls had lung damage caused by inhaling a dangerous substance with elevated phosphorus levels in their blood. A Hazmat team found dangerous levels of phosphine gas in the family’s home.
Looking for Answers
The Toones filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Bugman and Nocks in March 2011, which ended with a settlement in November, 2011. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, but included a stipulation order of dismissal with prejudice, meaning the family can’t file another lawsuit. The family declined to issue comments after the settlement was announced.
In a few short days, this family’s world was forever changed. Look at the details revealed in the weeks and months after the girls’ deaths:
• Pesticide pellets were buried in a pest burrow system within 15 feet of the family’s home, violating EPA rules
• Bugman employees used Fumitoxin dozens of times, but didn’t have a fumigant management plan
• A federal indictment alleged Bugman misused Fumitoxin at two other homes in the Salt Lake City, UT area
Next, the Toones looked to both the civil and criminal courts for justice.
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