The Unenforceable Law: Chemical Battery

March 24th, 2011

My last post described the fact that I was forced to file a complaint with the Bar Association of New York about the lack of tangible work product in the prosecution of my lawsuit (re: pesticide poisoning) over the past five years. A major area of disagreement in prosecuting the suit was my insistence that the defense be informed that I was suffering from ‘chemical battery’ or the use of pesticides and possibly other chemicals to harass and harm. I felt those attorneys should warn their clients that law enforcement agencies might inquire about these charges, should investigations be pursued. Evidence has included photographs of residues, environmental testing (personally ordered and paid for by myself), medical testing showing inflammation and bio-chemical changes typical of certain pesticide effects etc. Outright threats by known or photographed individuals finally confirmed the fact that some of my exposures to pesticides in recent years could have been malicious in nature.

Some individuals who speak badly of pesticides or any marketable poison, are acquainted with such hazards–even researchers.
The companies I sued upon the recommendation of an EPA investigator, are well insured so have no reason to wish me harm. I have never asserted that any individual connected with my suit is actually planned to intentionally inflict harm. However, the very existence of lawsuits against any branch of the chemical industry or agribusiness (pesticides) is a threat to profits garnered from putting farm chemicals inside our homes, schools and businesses. As with all cautionary tales regarding environmental protection from toxic products, there is the assumptions that jobs would be lost if we suggest that industry diversify and modify their products based upon concerns for human health.

It is unfortunate that there is no manufacturer of chemicals dedicated solely for use in the area of indoor pest control. It would be hugely profitable as the evidence for harm to non-targeted life forms from residentially used pesticides includes you and your family pet. The reduction in health care costs from such industry advances could well rival or exceed figures cited in savings attained through tobacco regulation. Farm chemicals have never been tested for their unexpected effects when enclosed by walls and floors/ceilings. Their persistence can range from months to years and certain banned pesticides have yet to break down in the environment decades after their applications. The financial stakes are great.

My lawyer did tell me that few pesticide cases actually made it to court in the US, most being dismissed for lack of evidence. He accepted my case based upon the heavily documented circumstances of their use, including my identification of such chemicals as present in the building through testing and documentation of my ‘sudden onset’ injuries corresponding with their appearance. That made it all the more puzzling for me when my case survived more than one motion to dismiss yet progress in the discovery progress ground to a halt in 2007.

In 2009, I became aware that I was experiencing the crime of chemical battery following my increased activity towards completing the preparations required to bring the court case to completion. However, a crime as sophisticated as chemical battery requires a great deal of investigative effort. A crime without evidence cannot be prosecuted and law enforcement agencies in the US today will rarely collect forensic samples in order to test for even a small range of possible substances. In numerous reports of cases where visible residues were present on my car from noxious substances applied from passing cars/trucks, officers declined to collect it for the following reasons:

1. They don’t know how to collect samples.

2. It costs their departments too much money to conduct such testing.

3. The victim doesn’t know the precise chemical used in order to narrow down the range of needed testing.

4. The officer can’t ‘smell’ anything and decides to attribute visible residues by unknown substances on your property or your car to naturally occuring substances. These might be attributed to accumulated moisture from rain, solids resembling bird droppings or residues of decomposing trash discarded by careless individuals tossing it into the streets.

5. Labs don’t have the necessary equipment for testing particular chemicals. This is the case with current use pesticides purchased in any grocery store and a significant problem hampering the medical profession in diagnosing environmentally induced illnesses. Without such testing, doctors can never have complete exposure histories on their patients and assess the degree to which pesticides contribute to common illnesses (e.g. Parkinson’s, cancer, asthma). We already know they cause a huge range of health problems but, as a society, often fail to class the purposeful infliction of harm upon others with these easily obtained products, as a crime to be prosecuted.

Today my car was sprayed with a substance by a passing motorist. The car rapidly filled with acrid fumes, forcing me to pull off the road and get out of the car. I watched the liquid drops on my window dry to a gelatinous consistency before my eyes while waiting for an officer to arrive at the scene. When he did arrive, we began to discuss the above mentioned problems in collecting the evidence. Reason number ‘4’ prevailed. The officer grasped some of the material and peeled it off the window. He then declared it was ‘tape’ and dropped the evidence in the street, which rendered the material unsuitable for lab testing. My complaint then became non-existent in the annals of crime analysis. Given the absence of evidence, no perpetrator needed to fear any accusations.

Evidence is needed to support criminal charges placed by individuals. However, the absence of evidence does not invalidate the possibility that a crime was committed. In the United States, every child can speak the jargon of shows like “NCIS”. We adults may also enjoy scenes of oddball scientists conducting forensic testing for obscure substances which makes it seem as if it were routine in law enforcement.

Well, that’s fiction.

Local authorities do not have such laboratory facilities readily available to them, nor do they typically seek the assistance of federal agents to conduct such investigations. I realized even before dialing 911 on that afternoon, that nothing would be done in my case. However, like my lawsuit which will never see trial, readers of this blog can learn from such injustices and perhaps feel justified in reporting such instances for the ‘record’ under similar circumstances.

The reality is that US citizens are unlikely to be able to register a complaint of assault and battery via hazardous chemicals unless it happens within sight of a police officer or is recorded on film. These crimes continue to be reported by individuals in the industry, by activists and litigants like myself. They would be better known if people spoke out about them and law enforcement geared up for a modern age in which violence doesn’t require blunt-force trauma with a hammer. Yes, the act of speaking out about such issues may come with a heavy price but that is only for as long as such reports remain a rarity among affected persons.

The crimes of the ‘modern’ age require proper data collection. No law enforcement agency should be without the requisite equipment needed to conduct air testing for particulates and specific gasses. Homeland security requires it as the abuse of toxic substances is a form of domestic terrorism. Call your government representative and demand bills which mandate appropriate lab facilities be made available to local governments. Certainly, our representatives need to look at law enforcement’s quandary of how to prepare their agents to protect citizens from such harm. Our law enforcement personnel are happy to do whatever is possible so we need to make this form of investigation feasible and affordable.

Your safety does depend upon it. Your rights as a US citizen demand it.

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