Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Settlement in lawsuit over boy without arms and legs

Carlitos' mother said that pesticides sprayed in adjacent Ag-Mart fields drifted and reached her and other workers. She also said she was forced to work in freshly sprayed fields and had suffered sore throat, burning eyes and headaches from the chemicals.

Ag-Mart has steadfastly disputed the claims.

Two former tomato pickers who said their son was born without arms and legs because of the misuse of dangerous pesticides in farm fields by the Florida produce company, Ag-Mart, have settled their lawsuit.

Carlos Candelario Herrera, known as "Carlitos," was born Dec. 17, 2004. His mother, Francisca Herrera, had worked in Ag-Mart fields during her pregnancy.

"Any care this child will require over the course of his lifetime will be provided by the settlement in this case," he said the parents' attorney, Andrew Yaffa.

Because of a confidentiality agreement, Yaffa said he could not reveal the amount that Ag-Mart had agreed to pay the parents. The suit sought damages for medical and hospital costs, lifetime care costs, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering and mental anguish. In earlier statements, Yaffa had said that would run into millions of dollars.

Ag-Mart is based in Plant City and markets SantaSweet and Ugly Ripe tomatoes. It is owned by Procacci Brothers of Pennsylvania, which is believed to be the largest produce company in the nation.

Read the Palm Beach Post report here. For previous posts and more information, click on the word "Carlitos" in the 13th juror del.ici.ous tags in the right-hand column.

Update: Check out Barb Howe's "The Human Cost of Profit Over People: Carlitos’ Story."


At 3:25 PM, Anonymous J.E. Simmons said...

I know about this child and his family. Through my work, I have seen lots and lots of horribly injured and disabled people, but this child is the most shocking and gut wrenching of all.

Seeing him in person or on video is even more shocking than the still photos - you see him talk and eat from his mother's hand kiss his mother and realize that he is as human as anyone - but he can do absolutely nothing for himself. Nothing.

I don't know enough to know if pesticides caused the birth defects, but doctors recognized as experts in the field were ready to testify that Carlitos was injured by the chemicals.

It's a sad, sad case.

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