A Machias blueberry grower has been ordered to pay nearly $730,000 to a worker who nearly died of heatstroke during an operation to burn a blueberry field in 2012, according to the law firm that represented the worker.

The Grower, Millard A. Whitney & Sons Inc., had assigned Michael Lund, 38, a seasonal farm worker from Machias, to help burn a field on an 85-degree day, according to a statement by Berman & Simmons, which represented Lund.

Burning fields spurs future growth.

Lund, who had never helped burn a field, was given insulated coveralls and told to walk behind a burning machine.

After working into the afternoon, Lund lost consciousness and was rushed to a hospital, where his body temperature was measured at 108 degrees. He was eventually transported via LifeFlight to the intensive care unit at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

He developed rhabdomyolysis, a condition that resulted in permanent damage to Lund’s legs and right shoulder.

Attorneys for Lund argued that Whitney & Sons failed to protect Lund from heatstroke by not providing employees with basic training on recognizing the condition’s symptoms.

The judgment for $729,845 covers medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and permanent impairment.

The decision from Justice William Anderson was announced Wednesday after a five-day bench trial held in Bangor in September.


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