Court case Number: 16-2-00284-1 Superior Court Of The State Washington County Of Chelan
Chelan, WA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/31/2017 --Chelan High School teacher Randy Gleasman, and his mother Phyllis Gleasman, are being sued for tortious assault and illegal acts in Chelan County Superior Court following an incident in which the Washington State Department of Agriculture penalized their orchard for pesticide spray violations. The Washington State Department of Health also confirmed two cases of pesticide related illness. The Gleasman family runs an apple orchard in the hills of Lake Chelan.
Phyllis Gleasman is running for a public health related position as Chelan Hospital Commissioner. Gleasman also serves as a trustee for the Wenatchee Valley Community College, whose website reports that she is "responsible for implementing the food safety program at Chelan Fruit Cooperative". According to Good Fruit Grower, Gleasman is a "certified SQF (Safe Quality Food) practitioner." The lawsuit states that her neighbors "live in apprehension and fear of continued incidents of exposure to themselves, guests, pets, and children caused by unpredictable and dangerous pesticide drift from Defendants' farming operation."
The pesticide application violation was documented in an independent investigation by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. According to the lawsuit, the Gleasmans sprayed their neighbors with the insecticide Chlorpyrifos. The WSDA report also documents the use of Wilbur-Ellis 440 Superior Spray (Insecticide-Fungicide-Miticide) involved in the violation. The lawsuit states that the Gleasmans placed their neighbors in "immediate fear of injury and bodily harm."
The lawsuit reflects upon the seriousness of the incident and potential risks of the chemicals involved: "Chronic human exposure to Chlorpyrifos is associated with neurological effects, persistent developmental disorders, and autoimmune disorders. The risk factors and severity of effects are compounded during pregnancy and in cases of exposure in young children."
The off-target spray drift was concentrated enough that a WSDA swab sample of the neighbor's window revealed a 17.0ug sampling. The findings were substantial enough to lead to a monetary penalty for Gleasman and other corrective actions. As part of their agreement with the WSDA, the Gleasmans removed a row of trees bordering their neighbors, erected a 25 foot tall spray drift fence, and will undergo monitoring for future pesticide application. In addition to the penalties from the WSDA, the Gleasmans now face a lawsuit from their neighbors.
Chlorpyrifos, the chemical pesticide used by the Gleasmans, was introduced by the Dow Chemical Company in 1965 and phased out by the EPA for household used in 2001. It is still allowed in certain agricultural uses and remains an environmental hot button issue. Its use is heavily regulated, and potential violations can be serious, as in this case. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, "Symptoms of severe poisoning include seizures, unconsciousness, paralysis, and suffocation from lung failure." The chemical has been marketed under various trade names, such as Lorsban Advanced and Dursban. In 2003, Dow Chemical Company agreed to pay a $2 million penalty to state of New York, in a response to a lawsuit to end Dow's advertising of Dursban as "safe".
The WSDA report also states Gleasman sprayed Wilbur-Ellis 440 Superior Spray Oil (Insecticide-Fungicide-Miticide). The WSDA report notes that it is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. "Do not apply this product in a way that will contact workers, other persons, either directly or through drift."
Due to the seriousness of this violation, the WSDA enhanced the civil penalty imposed upon the Gleasmans, stating the "high magnitude of harm" as one reason for the amplified penalties. The Gleasmans could face a jury trial for the incident in Chelan County Superior Court.
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Download the lawsuit here: http://phyllisgleasman.com/gleasmanlawsuit.pdf
Download the WSDA report here: http://phyllisgleasman.com/gleasmanWSDA.pdf
Download the Washington State Department PESTICIDE INCIDENT SUMMARY REPORT here: http://phyllisgleasman.com/140033_PISR.pdf