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Local farmer sues ag pesticide applicator for spraying him with toxic chemicals

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KRAGNES, Minn. – A Kragnes farmer is suing a Moorhead-based agricultural pesticide applicator for dousing him with pesticides while he was working on his family’s farm three years ago, causing what he alleges are serious, long-term health issues.

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The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Clay County District Court, states that then-18-year-old Carsten Thomas began to vomit blood and experience dizziness, headaches and uncontrollable shaking in his hands after Ag Spray’s plane sprayed him with pesticides while he was working on a county road near his family’s farm.

Thomas was wearing a T-shirt and driving a roofless 4-wheeler hauling a trailer of manure to his family’s compost pile when Ag Spray’s plane flew over him, dumping pesticides. Thomas’ shirt was drenched in the chemicals, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit also states that neurotoxins designed to interfere with insects’ nervous systems are a component of the pesticides.

The Thomas family runs an organic farm in Kragnes next to a conventional farm that Ag Spray, owned by pesticide applicator Gary Jerger, was spraying July 11, 2011.

The Thomases reported the incident to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which found that Ag Spray had violated state pesticide law and fined the company $1,500, the lawsuit states.

After the spraying incident, Thomas allegedly broke out in a rash over his upper body, developed a swollen face and had a hard time eating or drinking.

He still experiences headaches and uncontrollable shaking in his hand, according to the lawsuit, and has a hard time concentrating, which required him to drop out of college in Wisconsin.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages in lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, among other elements.

Thomas and Jerger could not be reached for comment.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541

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