Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lifelong care for limbless boy, 3, approved

Abraham Candelario, 23, comforts his son Carlos Herrera Candelario, 3, during a court hearing Wednesday in Tampa, where a confidential settlement was approved by a circuit judge.


Abraham Candelario, 23, comforts his son Carlos Herrera Candelario, 3, during a court hearing Wednesday in Tampa, where a confidential settlement was approved by a circuit judge.

TAMPA — A Plant City produce company will pay for the lifelong care of 3-year-old Carlos Herrera Candelario, born with no arms or legs to migrant workers who picked tomatoes in fields sprayed with dangerous pesticides.

The child napped on his mother's chest Wednesday as Hillsborough Circuit Judge Charlene Honeywell approved a confidential settlement reached last month by attorneys for the family and Ag-Mart Produce.

Andrew Yaffa, one of Carlos' attorneys, said the amount is "very significant."

"Every need, want and desire that this child will need over the course of his life will be taken care of," said Yaffa of Fort Lauderdale.

Ag-Mart, which grows UglyRipe heirloom tomatoes and Santa Sweets grape tomatoes, did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

After revelations about Carlos and two other severely disfigured babies born to tomato pickers in South Florida, Ag-Mart stopped using pesticides that had been linked to birth defects.

Florida and North Carolina hit the company with hundreds of citations for pesticide misuse, though administrative judges in both states recommended dismissing the bulk of the charges for a lack of evidence.

Carlos' parents came from Guerrero, Mexico, to work at Ag-Mart fields in Immokalee and North Carolina. His mother, Francisca Herrera, 22, picked tomatoes before and during her pregnancy and washed her husband's clothes.

Carlos, their first child, was born Dec. 17, 2004. In addition to his missing limbs, he had spinal and lung abnormalities.

Herrera and Carlos' father, 23-year-old Abraham Candelario, said Ag-Mart's chemicals caused their son's deformities. They sued in Hillsborough County because the company is based here.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Herrera said in depositions that pesticides were sprayed on repeated occasions in adjacent Ag-Mart fields and drifted to where she worked. Forced to work in freshly sprayed fields, she had suffered a sore throat, burning eyes and headaches.

Two government investigations found no link between pesticides and birth defects. Attorneys for the family questioned the studies' findings and had experts ready to testify otherwise.

Honeywell sealed the financial settlement after attorneys on both sides said Carlos and his parents would be at risk if their neighbors knew the details.

"It's not the nicest community where they live," said Ag-Mart attorney Keith Wickenden, who had no further comment after the hearing.

The money, which will be placed in trusts, will enable Carlos' parents to buy him a home and a wheelchair — things they couldn't afford before, Herrera said in Spanish. The child has full mental capabilities, attends preschool and "lights up a room," Yaffa said.

Yaffa said he thinks there are other migrant workers with children hurt by pesticides who are scared to come forward because of their immigration status. He stopped short of saying more lawsuits will be filed.

Carlos and his parents helped them all, he said.

"This child," he said, "represents change."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Lifelong care for limbless boy, 3, approved 04/16/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 18, 2008 3:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort


    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  2. Was it a crime? 10 patients at nursing home died after Irma


    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  3. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us


    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  4. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  5. Facebook to release Russia ads to Congress amid pressure

    NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators.