Pest control company accused of causing fire

By Catherine Melancon | Nov 16, 2012

Mark R. Pickering

BATON ROUGE – A Baton Rouge restaurant's insurance company is suing a pest control company after one of its employees allegedly caused a fire at the establishment.

QBE Specialty Insurance Company filed suit against Ecolab, Inc. and Vince Dantonioin the 19th Judicial Court on Nov. 2. The plaintiff is the insurance company for the Sonic located at 10603 Burbank Drive in Baton Rouge. Sonic hired Ecolab to provide pest control services to its Baton Rouge location.

On Nov. 6, 2011, Ecolab employee Danotnio arrived at the restaurant at approximately 11 p.m. to treat the pests with insecticides. He allegedly poured an undiluted insecticide known as Pyrocide 100 into the fogging machine and plugged it into an electrical outlet. The plaintiff claims the defendant's employee then deployed the applicator nozzle into the Z-wall behind the vegetable cooler, and used a tie-strap to tie the handle on the nozzle of the fogger down allowing it to operate and discharge insecticide while unattended. Danotnio is alleged to have exited the restaurant at 11:14 p.m. and returned at 11:26 p.m. with a cartridge respirator at which time he removed the applicator from the Z-wall.

The plaintiff claims while he was removing the applicator, Dantonio inadvertently sprayed Pyrocide 100 directly on a quad electrical receptacle at the top of the wall. He allegedly left the building at 11:55 p.m.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 7, 2011, security cameras in the restaurant recorded a bright flash and flickering of flames below and behind the vegetable counter in front of the Z-wall, where Dantonio applied insecticide into the Z-wall for 12 minutes. An investigation of the fire allegedly rendered that Pyrocide 100 was indeed flammable and the fire was started when the vapors from the application of the insecticide into the wall were ignited, most likely when the vegetable cooler kicked on.

The plaintiff claims the fire started because of the application of the flammable insecticide onto the electrical equipment, junction box and receptacles in the Z-wall.

The restaurant was considered a total loss from the severe fire damage and was not rebuilt.

The defendant is accused of negligence, applying and over-applying an insecticide they knew or should have known was flammable into the Z-wall where electrical equipment and wiring was present, failing to turn off the electrical equipment in the area where the flammable insecticide was applied, violating the instructions contained with the insecticide and its Material Safety Data Sheet, failing to use due care and failing to read, heed and follow warnings on the insecticide advising it was flammable and not to be applied near open flames or on active electrical equipment.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for property damage, building contents, debris removal and business interruption. The plaintiff is demanding a trial by jury.

The plaintiff is represented by Mark R. Pickering of Donato, Minx, Brown and Pool, PC of Houston, Texas.

The case has been assigned to Division A Judge Todd Hernandez.

Case no. 616659.

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