In 1998, Merit and his former partner, Steve Tinkler, obtained a $2.2 million jury verdict against Terminix International Pest Control for exposing three women to pesticides in their workplace.

New Mexico — Vigil, Romano, and Bielicki-Cooper vs. Terminix, exposure to Conquer causing serious health problems.  Terminix ordered to pay more than 2,000,000.
Three state prison workers who said they suffered nerve damage from a pesticide used against cockroaches won more than $2 million in a lawsuit against Terminix.  A federal jury in Albuquerque ordered Terminix International LP to pay compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiffs, Cyndy Vigil, Marta Romano, and Vicky Bielicki-Cooper.  US District Judge John Conway allowed the punitive damages after finding the company acted recklessly.  The three women were food service employees at the Penitentiary of New Mexico in April 1997, when Terminix sprayed a pesticide named Conquer.  They suffered neurological damages and other illnesses after a Terminix worker sprayed the pesticide while they worked in the prison kitchen, said their attorney Merit Bennett of Santa Fe.  “These companies used very toxic chemicals cavalierly, and after they hurt you, they say you’re not hurt,” he said.


Appeal from the United States District Court For the District of New Mexico (D.C. No. Civ-97-1194-JC)