November 22, 1997 in City

Third Hunter Sues Over Herbicide Spray

Associated Press

A third hunter who contends he was illegally sprayed with a herbicide that made him sick has sued the helicopter company that applied the chemical.

John Mauk on Thursday filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking unspecified damages from Precision Helicopters Inc. of Newberg, Ore.

Mauk and two other hunters - John Hough and Linda Wohlers - say they were sprayed last year while hunting in the Columbia Basin north of the Tri-Cities.

Hough and Wohlers filed similar lawsuits in federal court late last month.

Mauk and Wohlers, both of Redmond, are part-owners of a Mesa Lake duck ranch where they say they were sprayed with the herbicide 2,4-D by a Precision pilot on Nov. 3, 1996.

The South Columbia Basin Irrigation District had hired Precision to help control weeds in irrigation canals and other waterways.

Hough, of Bainbridge Island, says he and his hunting dogs were sprayed with the same chemical a day earlier.

Michael Gunn, a lawyer for Precision, declined to comment.

Gordon Woodley, Mauk’s Bellevue lawyer, said chemical toxins have lodged in his client’s fat cells.

“We’re afraid that the poisons that remain in his system will ultimately lead to him developing cancer,” Woodley said.

Mauk, an asthmatic, said he developed respiratory and bowel problems soon after the incident. In January, his lung capacity was reduced to 46 percent of normal, he said.

Mauk’s lawsuit does not name the irrigation district, which is a defendant in the lawsuits filed by Wohlers and Hough.

The lawsuits contend the defendants violated state and federal laws on chemical applications and also were negligent.

Since the spraying incidents, the irrigation district has suspended aerial applications.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined Precision $1,500 for using chemical concentrations greater than allowed and spraying where people were present.

The state Department of Agriculture pulled the Precision pilot’s license, saying he was not properly licensed and didn’t keep good records of his applications.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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