Oregon Man Settles Lawsuit Against Pest Control Company

March 27, 2008

A Florence man whose wife died a few hours after their home was sprayed with pesticide has settled his lawsuit against the company hired to do the job.

Fred Kolbeck sued Swanson’s Pest Management for $2.5 million, alleging negligence by the technician who applied the chemicals in the summer of 2005.

The suit settled as jurors were being selected for the trial in Lane County. Terms of the settlement were not made public.

Florence Kolbeck, 76, died of cardiac arrest after she and her husband returned to their home on the Oregon coast after it was fumigated. Fred Kolbeck was hospitalized for respiratory distress.

The house had been sprayed with a mixture of products not considered toxic to mammals, according to state investigators. But one of the ingredients, when inhaled, can cause respiratory irritation and abnormally rapid heartbeat.

The state investigation found that Florence Kolbeck’s significant history of heart disease, and lack of ventilation in her home, contributed to her death.

In its legal defense, the company said the application was done in accordance with label instructions, and that the homeowners did not adequately ventilate their home afterward.

Joan Jensen, operations manager for the Eugene-based company, told The Register-Guard newspaper that the settlement does not place blame on either party.

“Swanson’s Pest Management expresses its deepest condolences to Fred Kolbeck and his family and wishes them the best in the future,” Jensen said.

The lawsuit cited a state investigator’s finding that the company’s technician was not properly licensed to treat homes, although he was licensed as a commercial pesticide applicator.

The suit also claimed the technician did not ventilate the house or tell the Kolbecks to do so, and applied chemicals to surfaces and in places where it was not supposed to be applied.

The lawsuit also cited an affidavit filed by a federal agent who said the technician used a larger amount of chemical than needed.

The chemicals were pyrethrins and synthetic pyrethroids, widely used in sprays such as Black Flag and Raid.

Source: The Register-Guard.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.