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Idaho family reaches settlement in cyanide bomb lawsuit

| August 12, 2020 12:27 PM

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — The federal government has admitted negligence and agreed to pay an Idaho family nearly $40,000 to resolve a lawsuit after an M-44 “cyanide bomb” placed near the family's home exploded, killing the family's dog and spewing poison on a 14-year-old boy.

Reed Larsen, the Pocatello attorney who represented Mark and Theresa Mansfield and their son Canyon in the lawsuit, said the settlement is a victory for the family.

“The biggest thing that we wanted to accomplish was to make the government accept responsibility,” Larsen told the Idaho State Journal. "It took a substantial amount of work, but finally the government admitted this was their fault."

An attorney representing the federal government on the case didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The device, designed to kill coyotes, had been set up on public land near Pocatello by the U.S. Agriculture Department in February 2017. The boy, Canyon Mansfield, was out playing with his Labrador named Kasey the next month when he accidentally triggered the spring-loaded device. Canyon watched his family dog die and experienced symptoms of cyanide poisoning for weeks.

The family sued in 2018, and the late July settlement came about seven months after U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill dismissed the family's personal injury claims related to cyanide exposure. The settlement includes $30,000 for Canyon Mansfield's pain and suffering and $8,500 for the monetary value of Kasey.

After Canyon Mansfield encountered the M-44, several wildlife and environmental advocacy groups also sued the U.S. government, asking a judge to ban the devices from being used in Idaho. They reached an agreement with federal agencies in March that requires the U.S. Wildlife Services to complete a detailed analysis of the device's environmental impacts before they can be again placed in the state.