North Carolina

How many complaints and lawsuits involving Terminix have been filed in North Carolina?  How does the State of North Carolina rate as a public agency in providing information to the public and in their own knowledge of pest control companies spraying toxic chemicals in homes, businesses, and schools?

State of North Carolina Responsiveness

In response to the following questions asked in an e-mail letter February 27, 1999, to the State of North Carolina, Department of Agriculture, I received some answers in an e-mail letter March 4, 1999, from Carl Falco, Director, Structural Pest Control Division:

  1. What is the name and address of North Carolina’s pest inspection/pest control licensing and regulating agency?
  2. The Structural Pest Control Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the primary regulatory agency having purview over the structural pest control industry.

  3. How many years does North Carolina’s licensing and regulating agency maintain records of complaints against pest control/pest inspection companies?
  4. We retain all inspection records for a period of five (5) years.

  5. How many Terminix branches are currently operating in North Carolina?  (My records, taken from the Yellow Pages on the Internet, indicate there are currently 63 Terminix; aka Terminix International; aka Terminix Pest Control; aka Terminix Pest Control, Inc.; aka Terminix Service; aka Terminix Termite/Pest Control; aka Terminix Termite & Pest; aka Terminix Termite & Pest Control branches currently operating in North Carolina.)
  6. We are assembling this data and will provide it as soon as possible.

  7. In North Carolina, does each Terminix branch operate under a separate license or do all the Terminix branches operate under one license?
  8. We license people, not businesses.* [Emphasis added.] Each office of a company must be under the direct supervision of a licensed individual. A licensee is not permitted to operate more than one office.

  9. How many complaints, if any, have been filed in North Carolina against Terminix International (and its aka’s); including the nature of the complaints, name and location of Terminix branch involved; and disposition of complaints (dismissed, settled, fine, suspended or revoked license, probation, etc.)?
  10. We are working to assemble this data.  When it is available, I will forward it to you.

To date, I haven’t received the promised answers to #3 and #5; however, KUDOS to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture for posting settlement agreements on their web site!

Terminix/Terminex Lawsuits Filed in North Carolina

Red Springs Presbyterian Church vs. Terminix Company of North Carolina:  In March 1984, the sanctuary and educational buildings of plaintiff church were severely damaged by tornados. During the next two years, the buildings were restored and renovated. When the restoration and renovation was substantially completed, defendants, acting under the license of defendant Kellett, treated the sanctuary for termite infestation. At the time of this treatment, the parties signed a contract entitled "Termite Protection Plan." Plaintiff paid for the termite treatment and for the annual fees set out in the termite contract. In the spring of 1993, plaintiff discovered termite damage to the flooring of the vestibule, the flooring of the library, and to the stained glass windows on the south side of the sanctuary. Defendants have not made any repairs to these areas alleged to be damaged.

In April 1994, plaintiff filed this action. Plaintiff alleged in its complaint: (1) inadequate and unworkmanlike termite treatment; (2) inadequate and unworkmanlike annual inspections occurring after the original treatment; (3) failure to repair plaintiff's building as required by the contract; (4) fraud for contractually waiving "minimum" termite treatment requirements; (5) unfair and deceptive trade practices; and (6) failure "to seek in good faith a resolution" of plaintiff's claim which is alleged to constitute an unfair and deceptive trade practice. The fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practice claims concern, in part, the waivers contained in the Termite Contract. In the Termite Contract prepared by defendants, plaintiff had waived ten of the minimum requirements for treatment required by the North Carolina Structural Pest Control Committee. Plaintiff contends that by waiving these minimum standards, it was substantially certain that termites would later actively infest the sanctuary; that defendants knew this; that plaintiff did not know the importance of these waivers; that defendants knew that plaintiff did not know the importance of these waivers; that defendants had a duty to disclose this information to plaintiff; and that this failure to disclose was done fraudulently. Plaintiff also contends that defendants have fraudulently attempted to avoid their legal responsibility for the termite damage.

Gibson v. Terminix and Bruce-Terminix Company v. Zurich Insurance Company and Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company.  Filed 15 September 1998 (North Carolina). On April 15, 1996, Susan L. Gibson, having discovered property damage caused by termite infestation in her home, filed suit against Terminix and the sellers.  In that suit, she alleged that when she purchased the home, it was covered by a Terminix termite protection plan and that she received a continuation of that plan from Terminix.  She further alleged that when she received the continuation plan, Terminix did not furnish or disclose an inspection graph it had completed May 13, 1987, showing extensive termite damage.  Terminix did, however, provide a HUD form, prepared July 29, 1987, for seller’s closing, stating there was no termite damage.  In February or March 1988, Gibson contacted Terminix when she found indications of a possible swarm of termites in the kitchen area of her home. Terminix responded by treating the home and promising to make any necessary repairs to the structure.  Gibson attempted to contact Terminix and its carpenter several times before Terminix indicated to her that everything was “okay.”  On March 26, 1993, Gibson detected several soft spots in the walls of her living room and had a contractor inspect the house for termite damages. When the contractor tore away the existing wood in the living room, he discovered extensive termite and water damage.  Gibson filed her suit against Terminix and the sellers on April 15, 1996 for fraud and misrepresentation, unfair and deceptive trade practices, breach of contract/warranty, and negligence.

Terminix contacted both of its insurance providers for the time periods during which the alleged damage occurred, Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company, which provided coverage from 12-31-86 through 1-1-89, and Zurich Insurance Company, 1-1-89 through 7-1-94. Both Harleysville and Zurich refused to defend Terminix against Gibson’s suit. Terminix hired counsel to represent its interests in the Gibson suit. The lawsuit was eventually settled through mediation. Gibson had incurred $22,816 in actual property damage. Terminix contributed $16,500 toward a total settlement of $19,000 and incurred $14,393.45 in legal expenses for a total of $30,893.45. Terminix filed a complaint and request for declaratory judgment in the instant case against Zurich and Harleysville on  July 19, 1996.

Phillip A. Terrell, Employee, Plaintiff. v. Terminix Services, Inc., Employer; Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Carrier, Defendants.  Appeal by defendants from opinion and award of the North Carolina Industrial Commission filed 5 August 1999. Heard in the North Carolina Court of Appeals 8 January 2001. North Carolina Industrial Commission I.C. File No. 407161.  The Industrial Commission properly exercised jurisdiction in a workers' compensation case when it concluded that plaintiff employee timely filed his claim for an occupational disease under N.C.G.S. § 97-58 even though plaintiff was disabled as of 20 September 1992 but was not advised by a competent medical authority that his disease was a result of his occupation until April 1994, three months after plaintiff filed his claim, because: (1) N.C.G.S. § 97-58 provides that the two-year period within which claims for benefits for an occupational disease must be filed begins running when an employee has suffered from an occupational disease which renders the employee incapable of earning, at any job, the wages the employee was receiving at the time of the incapacity, and the employee is informed by competent medical authority of the nature and work-related cause of the disease; and (2) the statutory period was not triggered since no testimony was offered that any of plaintiff's doctors informed plaintiff that his job was causing his disease until after plaintiff filed his claim with the Commission....

State of North Carolina Action(s)

 

Structural Pest Control Committee Settlement Agreements/Decisions:

06/08/95

Howard L. Laws of Terminix Company of North Carolina, entered into a settlement agreement.  In one incident, technicians from Terminix treated a condominium complex for the control of subterranean termites. An inspection by the Division revealed deviations from the minimum treatment requirements, including failure to sufficiently drill and treat all visible or known expansion and construction joints. A re-inspection was performed by the Division. The slab surrounding many of the inner structural pilings did not have enough holes drilled and the slab around many of the utility pipes still had not been drilled. In addition, several "fake" patched drill holes were found. A second re-inspection was conducted by the Division. The slab around some of the wooden piers was still not drilled on four sides and around two out of every four holes did not go through the slab. In the second incident, the Division alleged that Dursban TC, E.P.A. Reg. No. 464-562, was applied under a structure as a broadcast application. This application is inconsistent with the Dursban TC label.  Laws agreed to pay a penalty of $900. Neither Laws nor the technicians involved in the two incidents are presently employed by Terminix Co. of North Carolina.


Edwin Kearton and Tim Hughes of Terminix Co. of North Carolina, entered into a settlement agreement as a result of Mr. Hughes representing to a property owner that a structure had subterranean termite activity when in fact no visible evidence of such infestation existed.  Kearton and Hughes agreed to pay a penalty of $300 each

08/29/95

Albert S. Jourdan of Terminix Company of North Carolina, Southern Pines, entered into an agreement as a result of an investigation conducted by the Division. Kenny Miller, inspector and sales technician for Terminix, inspected a structure in Pinebluff. After his inspection, Miller presented a pill bug to the property owner and identified it as a "soldier termite". He informed the property owner that there were termites in the crawl space and proposed to treat the property for subterranean termites.  Inspection by the Division revealed the presence of pill bugs on decaying wood debris in the crawl space. No evidence of termites was found. Jourdan agreed to pay a penalty of $300.


Kenneth Adams of Terminix Services II, Smithfield, entered into an agreement resulting from an investigation conducted by the Division. Adams treated a property in Smithfield for the control of subterranean termites using the pesticide Dursban TC, E.P.A. Reg. No. 62719-47. Adams initiated the treatment by drilling the foundation walls and trenching the soil around the foundation. Adams did not apply any Dursban TC on that day because there was standing water in some areas of the crawl space. He returned four days later and completed the treatment. According to the homeowner, it had rained since Adams began the treatment to the day he went back to finish it. Five days after the treatment was completed, an inspection by the Division revealed standing water with a milky solution present in some locations along the crawl space foundation walls. Active termites were also found. Two (2) samples of the standing water were taken and analysis of the samples revealed the presence of chlorpyrifos, the active ingredient in Dursban TC. According to Adams, the day he applied Dursban TC, there was no standing water in the crawl space, however, he stated that the crawl space and the area against the foundation walls was muddy. The Dursban TC label states not to treat soil that is water saturated or frozen.  Adams agreed to pay a penalty of $300 and to attend a two (2) hours training course on the application of Dursban TC. He further agreed to complete a Training Verification Form upon completion of the training and to return it to the Division within sixty (60) days of approval of the agreement by the Committee.

11-22-95

David M. Groves, Terminix Co. of North Carolina, Wilmington, agreed to pay a $450 penalty for failing to adequately supervise the activities of his office. Mark Pecker, also of Terminix of North Carolina, Wilmington, agreed to pay a $300 fine for altering contracts.  The N.C. Structural Pest Control Committee approved the terms as part of a settlement agreement, which does not constitute an admission of guilt. While Terminix was involved in the negotiations of the agreement, the company was not charged with a violation. The company cannot be charged under N.C. law, but officials may charge registered employees.*

Pecker, on March 21, 1994, negotiated a contract with Helen Bess for termite treatments. The contract was signed on March 21 and the treatment was performed on March 22, 1994. Bess' copy did not include a renewal fee and only included one item checked on the waiver.  An inspector with NCDA's Structural Pest Control Division, upon inspecting the file copy at Groves' business office, discovered that the two copies differed. Pecker later admitted that he had altered the contract after it was signed by Bess. Pecker also said he added a renewal fee of $87.50 and attempted to alter the date of Bess' signature. Bess did not sign a contract with a renewal fee written on it, according to NCDA, and was repeatedly told by Pecker that no such fee would be charged.

In a separate case, Pecker treated a residence owned by Eloise Andrews. The contract of the treatment was dated Feb. 7, 1994. He treated the residence on Aug. 22, 1994. The waiver contract submitted to Andrews differed from the contract in company files, according to NCDA's Structural Pest Control Division. Pecker later said he did not mark three waiver items on the copy he gave to Andrews but did mark the items on his office copy.

5-2-96

Norman B. Davis of Terminix Service Inc., Franklin, NC, entered into an agreement resulting from the contamination of a pond and subsequent fish kill. While treating the Spalin residence in Sapphire Valley, NC for the control of termites Terminix allegedly allowed the termiticide Equity, EPA Reg. No. 62719-167, to enter a drain system that carried the chemical to a nearby pond. Such an application is prohibited by the Equity label. NCDA inspectors found dead fish and chemical residue in the water.  Davis agreed to pay a penalty of $500.


Arnold C. Harrell, licensee at Terminix Co. of East Carolina, 2601 W. Vernon Ave., Kinston fined $450 for misrepresentation.  NCDA collected samples from six pest control jobs Harrell performed between July 1, 1993 and June 30, 1994.  Five of the jobs or 83 percent were deficient in termiticide. State regulations define a deficient soil sample as containing less than 25 percent of required pesticide.

10-2-96

Tracy L. Coats, licensee for Terminix Services II, Inc., Raleigh, NC entered into a settlement agreement resulting from an investigation conducted by the Division involving an inspection of a structure in Cary, NC by an employee, Kevin Shumante.  Shumante notified the homeowner that he found active subterranean termites and non-decay fungi in the crawl space. After its inspection, the Division determined the crawl space was dry and observed no evidence of termites. Coats agreed to pay $300 and provide four hours training in the biology of, identification of and inspection for subterranean termites.

3-4-98

David M. Groves of Terminix Co. Of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC, agreed to pay $1,000 to resolve charges resulting from an investigation conducted by the Division. An employee from Terminix performed a reinspection under the termite guaranty on a structure located in Wilmington, NC. The technician, working under Groves' supervision, told the homeowner that he observed a brown fungus growing under his house. A second Terminix employee, also working under Groves' supervision, inspected the home and told the homeowner that the trusses would eventually be eaten up by the fungus.  He proposed a Timbor treatment. A treatment was subsequently performed. The inspection graph drawn by Terminix Co. of NC, indicated moisture content readings from 12% to 16%. Inspection of the property by the Division revealed no evidence of fungus under the structure and moisture content readings of 12% to 17%.

5-13-98

Joey L. Brown and Frankie Foy of Terminix Service, Harrisburg, NC entered into a settlement agreement as the result of a complaint investigated by the Division. Foy performed the last phase of a pretreatment in a structure in Charlotte, NC using Equity, E.P.A. Reg. No. 62719-167 at a 0.75% solution. Two or three days after the treatment, there was heavy rain and dead fish were noticed in a pond near to the structure. Inspection by the Division determined that the structure contained a French drain around the home leading into a line that drained into the pond. The solution was introduced into the french drain. The use of the pesticide was inconsistent with the label. Brown and Foy agreed to pay a penalty of $300 each and Brown agreed to provide a two-hour training session in following termiticide labels when treating for subterranean termites.


At its May 13, 1998 meeting, the Structural Pest Control Committee approved the Final Agency Decision for the formal hearing held on October 29, 1997. At the hearing, the Committee heard evidence concerning charges that Mr. A. Stanley Jourdan issued an inaccurate WDIR and that the inaccurate WDIR resulted in part from his failure to adequately supervise the related activities of his office. At the time of the incident, Mr. Jourdan's NC Structural Pest Control License No. 963PW was assigned to the business address of Terminix Co. of North Carolina at Southern Pines.

In its Final Agency Decision, the Committee made the following Findings of Fact. Mr. Jourdan issued a WDIR on a Laurinburg residence in November, 1994. The inspection for the WDIR was performed by an individual working under Jourdan's license. The WDIR indicated that no visible evidence of an infestation from wood-destroying insects was observed. When the Division inspected the home during March, 1995, evidence of termites, including tube etchings were observed in several locations. A review of Jourdan's business records indicated that the residence had been under contract with Terminix prior to the issuance of the WDIR, that Terminix had performed control measures for termites at the home and had repaired some damage. The Committee further found that Jourdan did not review the WDIR prior to its issuance, but that he realized that it was inaccurate when it was brought to his attention because of his prior knowledge of the structure. Concerning the supervision issue, the Committee found, based on the evidence, that Jourdan did not have a "comprehensive, systematic and reasonable method or procedure of quality control to review the WDIR paperwork or to spot check/inspect" the structures inspected by others for the purpose of issuing a WDIR. In addition, the Committee found that Jourdan trained the employees, but did not routinely conduct follow up inspections of their work to see if the work was properly done. In its Conclusions of Law, the Committee found that the WDIR issued by Jourdan was inaccurate.  Jourdan's lack of a routine and systematic procedure of quality control to review WDIR work constituted a failure to "adequately supervise" his employees in the performance of WDIR work. The Committee further found that Jourdan failed to adequately supervise the specific employee involved in this matter.  As the result of its findings, the Committee ordered Jourdan to pay $600. Jourdan has appealed the Committee's Final Agency Decision in the Superior Court of Wake County.

Vol. 9
Spring
2000

Phillip R. Kaylor formerly of Terminix Company of East Carolina in New Bern agreed to pay a penalty of $800 as a result of inadequate supervision of employees working under his license. During both routine and complaint investigations, the Division found a number of termite treatments where sales personnel working under Kaylor's license had altered the waiver form. Kaylor denied any wrongdoing and contends that he was employed as service manager and was not responsible for sales. In addition, this investigation determined that one employee had been allowed to work without having received a required Registered Technician's Identification Card.


Donald Harrell formerly of Terminix Company of East Carolina in New Bern agreed to pay $800 for altering the waiver form on termite contracts that he had sold on five residences. In each case, the homeowner’s contract did not have any items on the waiver form marked as being waived or any items explained whereas contracts found at the Terminix office had waived items both checked and explained. In each case, the homeowner did not know that any items were going to be waived on the treatment.

Richard Garner formerly of Terminix Company of East Carolina in New Bern agreed to pay a penalty of $400 for altering the waiver form on termite contracts that he had sold on two properties. In each case, the homeowners’ contract did not have any items marked as being waived or any explanations; whereas the company’s paperwork had waived items both checked and explained. In each case, the homeowner did not know that any items were going to be waived.

Jimmy Young of Terminix Company of East Carolina denied any wrongdoing but agreed to pay a penalty of $1,000 for failure to supervise salesmen at the New Bern Terminix office. Young was employed by Terminix as area sales supervisor and was responsible for training and supervising all sales personnel. During both routine and complaint investigations, the Division found numerous jobs where waiver forms had been altered where the company’s copy differed from the homeowner’s. In each case, the homeowner was unaware that any items had been waived in their termite work.  Young contends that he instructed the salesmen in the proper way to complete paperwork.

Phillip R. Kaylor of Terminix Company of North Carolina in New Bern agreed to pay $300 for failure to adequately supervise and employee working under his license. The employee did not perform a thorough annual inspection and did not identify an active infestation at a residence.

In the same case, William E. Sears of Terminix Company of North Carolina agreed to pay $400 for failure to identify numerous active infestations of subterranean termites in a New Bern residence during an annual renewal inspection.

5-31-00

Michael B. Fanning of Terminix Co. of East Carolina in Jacksonville agreed to $400 for incorrectly disposing of the pesticide Tim-Bor. Soil samples taken from the courtyard around the Terminix building were found to have Boron, the active ingredient in "Tim-bor." Two soil samples were taken from the area where the dumping occurred along with a control sample taken from another point in the yard. As a result of incorrectly disposing of Tim-Bor, Michael B. Fanning entered into a settlement.

11-15-02

Victoria Martin of Bruce Terminix Company in Stokesdale agreed to a $200 fine and two-year revocation of her certified applicator’s identification card for the misapplication of an insecticide to control yellow jackets. Martin applied DeltaDust inside a Greensboro residence to rid the home of yellow jackets in such a way that the interior of the home was covered in dust. The label of the insecticide states it should not be allowed to settle on exposed surfaces or be introduced into the air. It also states that kitchens should be completely covered during treatment, which Martin did not do.


Brian Oldham of Bruce Terminix in High Point agreed to complete and pass a correspondence course on wood-destroying insects within 12 months or pay a $400 fine for not properly identifying a powder-post beetle infestation. Oldham told the homeowner there was a large, active infestation of powder-post beetles and suggested a costly treatment. An NCDA&CS inspection found only evidence of an old infestation.

John R. Kuykendall of Terminix Service, Inc. of Hendersonville agreed to pay $600, provide training sessions for employees and have a registered technician repeat Certified Registered Technician Training within three months for failing to properly supervise a technician working under his license. The registered technician performed a termite treatment on a home in Columbus after an inspection revealed termites. A follow-up inspection by NCDA&CS found no evidence of any treatment, even though the contract stated otherwise. It was also determined the registered technician was employed by Terminix Service for about six months before receiving an identification card. State law requires a company to apply for an identification card for an employee within 75 days of hiring.

Sears Termite and Pest Control, Inc., with businesses in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte, agreed to pay $500 per homesite, for a total of $46,000, to reimburse 92 customers for the costs associated with installing and maintaining a termite control system that was not registered for use in the state. Sears also agreed to reimburse any other customers identified within the next year who were sold the Bio-Blast Biological Termiticide, as used with the Duraguard Plus System. In lieu of reimbursing each customer, Sears Termite and Pest Control Inc. can arrange and pay for a third party structural pest control operator licensed in North Carolina to install a comparable termite system in each of the 92 homes. All three locations were also applying Bio-Blast Biological Termiticide to the soil in and around monitoring stations, which is against the label instructions. The pesticide has since been approved for use in North Carolina.

Note:  Since the ServiceMaster Company announced August 20, 2001, that its Terminix business unit had agreed to acquire certain assets of Sears Termite & Pest Control, Inc. (STPC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Co., were the violations and fines North Carolina assessed in Nov. 2002 to Sears actually the responsibility of Terminix?  Is Terminix keeping and operating under the Sears name?

5-14-03

David M. Groves and Harry Maxey of Terminex of Wilmington were charged with failing to follow label directions in the use of a termite bait product, and with failing to maintain and provide treatment records to state inspectors when requested. In a formal hearing, the Committee found evidence of both violations, and voted to impose civil penalties of $800 against Groves and $1,600 against Maxey.


David Willis of Terminex of East Carolina at Morehead City agreed to pay $400 for improper application of a fungicide at two different homes. Willis applied Tim-bor to the substructure of both homes without removing the insulation. Tim-bor is labeled for wood application and the treatments did not reach the wooden components covered by insulation and therefore did not correct the wood-destroying fungi.

Vernon H. Davis Jr. of Terminix Company of North Carolina in New Bern denied wrongdoing but agreed to pay $400 for improper application of a fungicide. Davis applied Tim-bor to the substructure of a Morehead City home without removing the insulation. Tim-bor is labeled for wood application and the treatments did not reach the wooden components covered by the insulation and therefore did not correct the wood-destroying fungi. Davis also failed to note on paperwork whether or not moisture readings were taken and if there was an active infestation, both of which are required by law.

*If I do business with a company in North Carolina and am defrauded and/or suffer damages, the business cannot be charged -- only the employee(s)? THIS is North Carolina’s law??

Ohio