Parents Win 2.3 Million In Death Suit
A Chatham County Superior Court jury Thursday awarded a Savannah couple $2.3 million in damages for the death of their 3 ' -year-old daughter who, they contended, died from poisoning caused when a pest control company improperly treated their home. Anne and Kenneth Schemmel were awarded the sum by a jury of four men and eight women for the death of the couple's daughter, Heidi. Damages were returned against Town and Country Exterminating, Inc. The verdict, returned about 5:30 p.m. ended almost three weeks of trial before Judge Perry Brannen, Jr.
The jury's total award of $2,267,490 included $1,760,000 for the child's wrongful death; $400,000 for her pain and suffering; $25,000 for Mrs. Schemmel for her illness as a result of the exterminating gas; $75,000 for her pain and suffering from the loss of her daughter and $7,490 for medical and funeral expenses for the child. 'It's been such a horrible three years since Heidi died. I feel like this is something we've really done for our daughter,' Mrs. Schemmel said Thursday night. She said doctors agreed Heidi should not have died, but could not tell her why. 'Now I feel like I finally have some answers. I feel like I have saved some other child from dying like Heidi did,' she said.
The Schemmels, represented by Lasky Cooper Law's lead litigation partner, Jeffrey w. Lasky blamed Heidi's death on methyl bromide poisoning left in their home after the exterminator treated the structure for wood borers. Methyl bromide is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas used to treat pests. Heidi died Sept. 19, 1987, in the pediatric intensive care unit at Memorial Medical Center less than nine hours after she was admitted.
Town and Country fumigated the residence. Within hours of returning to the home, Heidi began vomiting and became lethargic, evidence showed. Her mother also became ill, remaining ill from Wednesday until Friday.
The Schemmels took Heidi to her pediatrician, who ordered her hospitalized. She was admitted to the hospital about 2:30 p.m. and died about 11:30 p.m. Evidence showed the Schemmels were allowed to return home some 27 hours after the fumigation. Testimony by plaintiff witnesses showed the national standard for pest control operators called for a minimum of from 36 to 48 hours after treatment before releasing the residence for habitation.