Bed Bug Lawsuits and Settlements

Overview

Bed bug lawsuit activity is on the rise.  This is being fueled by tenants who are suing building managers and travelers who are suing hotels. Legal action has been brought against rental furniture stores, new furniture stores and conference centers.

Lawsuits are often necessary  as the law is unclear in many cities that do not include bed bugs as part of standard landlord/tenant agreements. Tenants often fail to ask for a bed bug clause that mandates that landlords pay for treatment.

Unfortunately, lawsuits are becoming commonplace as the as bed bug epidemic spreads.  Below we've outlined current legal activity that we are aware of, and the laws in specific areas that define your rights in reaching a bed bug settlement.

bed bug bites on armBites Received by Hotel Guest During Stay. Lawsuit settled for $100,000.

Examples of successful cases include:

  • $800,000 awarded to an evicted tenant who complained about bed bugs.
  • $225,000 against a furniture store that sold an infested bunk bed
  • $100,000 to a hotel guest who staying in a room that was not inspected for bed bugs, and then suffered bites and distress.
  • $2.45 million awarded to resident of a Des Moines public housing project (Elsie Mason Manor).

If you are experiencing a bed bug problem be sure to do the following to document the experience:

  • Seek medical treatment
  • Take pictures of the bites and any signs of bed bugs in the room such as mattress fecal or blood stains
  • Request that the hotel or location create an incident report
  • Report the incident to the hotel front desk. Record the time and person taking the report.

Please share your bed bug lawsuit stories  by filling out the comment submission form at the bottom of this page.

Landlord and Tenant Bed Bug Lawsuit Activity

In the United States and many Countries, most areas do not include bed bugs in the law that requires that landlord provide a safe and habitable environment for tenants.  When bed bugs are not specifically named, bed bugs fall into a gray area as they do not spread disease in the way that other vermin such as rats can.

That said, in general landlords have a duty to maintain properties in a reasonably safe condition.  Pest infestations are thought to be "unsafe" in most situations.  Any vagueness in local law might require a lawsuit.  That said, approach a landlord first in writing to determine if they will cover the cost and take action in a reasonable time frame.

Where to Check Your Applicable Bed Bug Law:

  • The State Attorney Generals office is the first stop for finding the applicable law in your area. Agreements tend to be standard.  They also usually have a phone hot line that can be called for questions.  Do not hesitate to call.
  • Many cities and counties have a code that states if a tenant or landlord is responsible for treatment costs.
  • You can also check our local resources pages for the bed bugs law specific to your region.

Cases and Settlements

There are many cases where tenants are suing landlords that fail to treat apartments for bed bugs.  Many bed bug litigation cases are due to the law being unclear in many States and Countries as to who is responsible for treatment.

Aimco, Denver: Aimco is the largest landlord in the United States. Tenants organized and sued after building owner refused to pay for bed bug treatment.  Company sued tenants for bringing bed bugs into building in the first place. Tenants were fined $2400 for moving out of infested unites and another $350 for bed bug treatment (after company initially denied finding bed bugs).

Baltimore, MD: In Baltimore, a tenant won $40,000 due to landlord neglignece, where the landlord waited 48 days to fumigate her Hunting Hill's apartment. The lawyer for the plaintiff was Daniel Whitney from the firm Whitney and Bogris LLP located in Towson, MD. The law firm claims that there are 18 additional Baltimore bed bug cases pending.  This is the first successful tenant bed bug lawsuit in Baltimore.

Brooklyn, NY:  Tenant sued landlord for bed bug infested apartment in Park Slope Brooklyn.  The case was brought by Ellyn Glisman-Sullivan a 25 year resident of her apartment. After being covered with bed bug bites, the plaintiff notified the landlord who applied an ineffective spray treatment.  More details available on the Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.

Des Moines, Iowa (Elsi Mason Manor): Residents sue over bed bugs due to infestations that are so bad, residents are covered with bed bugs.  New residents were not being warned about bed bugs.  Residents are seeking a bed bug settlement of $1.4 million dollars in damages.  $2.45 million was awarded!.

Des Moines, Iowa (Royal View Manor): Public housing class action lawsuit over a bedbug infestation.

New York City: Actress Maya Rudolph from Saturday Night Live sued condominium owner she rented for $13,500/month after determining that it had bed bugs.

Presidential Towers, Chicago: Tenants sued building owner for $50,000 after getting bed bug bites.

Park Tower Condominium Association (5415 N. Sheridan Road), Chicago - The condo association sued a resident, Sandra L. Gold, after determining that her apartment was infested with "500 bedbugs."   The bedbug lawsuit was initiated when the resident "failed and refused" extermination efforts, creating a pest control problem in the building.  Ms. Gold was represented by lawyer Ralph Schindler. Read more in the An article in Chicago Real Estate Daily.

Steeplechase Apartments, Maryland : Couple claimed that within 3 days of moving into an apartment they were bitten by bed bugs. They moved out in less than a month.  The bed bug attorney was Daniel Whitney.  Wife sought medical treatment for inflamed hives.  Couple sued for $50,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 punitive damages.

Baltimore Bed Bugs Renter/Tenant Lawsuit


Bed Bug Lawsuits Video - WMAR ABC 2 News Baltimore

Briarcliff Apartments,  Cockeysville, MD: Suit by woman claiming an infested apartment caused her bed bug bites and scarring of the skin.  She asked for $100,000 in damages. The bed bug attorney was Daniel Whitney.

Chattanooga, Tennessee (2011): A landlord sued the prior owner of an apartment building claiming the infestation existed prior to the purchase. The new owners sued asking for the extermination fee of $2,400.  The attorney general's office in Tennessee has not issued an opinion regarding the lack of clarity in the "Tennessee Landlord and Tenant Act of 1975" regarding who is responsible for bed bug treatment.  This ambiguity will result in more lawsuits.  Read more in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Camps

YMCA, Michigan: A family sued the camp after claiming that a child brought home bed bugs. Case was too difficult to prove as a preponderance of the evidence has to show that the bed bugs in the child's home in fact came from the camp.  For more see mLive.com.

Colleges and Universities

Portland State University: Students sued a hosing development (Park Plaza Apartments) stating there were bed bugs in the units.

Fordham University: Sued the "New Yorker Hotel" which was serving as student housing. Students claimed hotel had bed bugs.  Click here for NY1 Story.

University of Wisconsin: There was a lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin System from a woman who received bed bugs bits will staying in the University of Wisconsin Hotel and Conference Center.  The Center did offer to pay for medical costs.

Furniture

Both new and used furniture including rent-to-own can come to your home already infested with bed bugs. Trucks used to transport furniture frequently pick up used furniture from homes or apartments that are infested. The bed bugs can then spread in the truck to the furniture about to be delivered to you.

When you complain to a furniture or rent-to-own company they will often ask you to sign a release before correcting the problem. If you are planning a lawsuit DO NOT sign the form until you consult with an attorney. Signing the form could waive your rights to be compensated.  Many attorneys will provide a free consultation.

JCPenney (7/2008): A couple sued a JCPenney in New jersey indicating that the new furniture arrived infested with bed bugs.  The couple won a bed bug settlement of $49,000 and were represented by New Jersey bed bug attorney Kevin Siegel.

Furniture Rental or Rent-to-own

In 2007 there was case was a case where an Atlanta family rented furniture which the family claimed was infested with bed bugs. In this case, the movers and family noticed the bed bugs before the furniture was brought into the home.  

The movers from the rental company, Aaron Rents, returned the next day claiming the furniture was bed bug free.  This was not the case, with the family suffering from bed bug bites.  The furniture rental company treated the home at first, but after several attempts was unsuccessful given the large size of the infestation. 

Hotels

There have been many cases of consumers suing hotels and other types of travel related bed bug lawsuits where travelers claim receiving bed bug bites during a stay.  Others have sued after claiming that they brought bed bugs home from a hotel stay.  There are some reported results such as couple that won a bed bug settlement of $382,000  in 2003 against a major national hotel chain and $100,000 in a 2015 case.

Hotel visitors usually ask for compensation for the following:

  • lost wages related to case
  • reimbursement for travel costs or a cancelled vacation
  • skin disfigurement and scarring
  • emotional distress
  • anxiety
  • sleeplessness
  • discarded property such as clothes
  • costs related to bringing a bed bug infestation home
  • pain and suffering related to bites
  • negligence
  • nuisance
  • breach of implied warranty of habitability
  • battery
  • fraud

Some examples of cases include:

Barona Casino (2/7/08): Sued the hotel claiming they were bitten by bed bugs. Robert and Gloria Chisley claimed they were bitten over 100 times by bed bugs.

Embassy Suites Hotel San Rafael California: unspecified dollar amount for bed bug bites during stay.

Glendale, California: Three women are suing the Glendale Rodeway Inn-Regalodge Motel located on West Colorado Street (Choice Hotels).  The women claim that they were bitten "dozens of times" and are suing for mental anguish and medical costs..  Trial is scheduled for April 2011. Source: LA Times

Hilton, Ohio (5/2007): Sued for $5,000,000 based on emotional distress, embarrassment and physical scarring from bed bug bites. The lawsuit claimed that Hilton breached its duty to provide reasonable safe accommodations which in turn let to embarrassing injury and tremendous emotional distress.

Hilton Suites, Phoenix: Sued for $6,000,000 due to bed bug bites from stay. An opera singer claimed she received 150 bed bug bites. Source: North Country Gazette.

Hotel Pennsylvania, New York: Unspecified damages sought for physical pain, mental anguish, emotional stress and lost earning due to bed bugs

Marriott, Pennsylvania (Springhills Suites Plymouth Meeting, PA): Sued for negligence for injuries due to bed bug bites.

Milford Plaza, New York: Sued for $2,000,000 and for negligence

Nevele Hotel, Ellenville NY (3/9/06) - A couple that stayed at the Nevele resort sued for $20,000,000 as a results of the wife receiving 500 bed bug bites.  The suit was brought by attorney Allan J. Schnurman.

Ramada Plaza Hotel, San Francisco: A woman staying at the hotel brought a lawsuit against a claim that she received 400 bedbug bites during her stay at the hotel over a 3 day period.  The case was settled for $71,000.  Read more - Downtown Bedbug Attack Costs Ramada $71,000.

Red Roof Inn, Washington DC (2015): A woman sued and won $100,000 for bites sustained in a room that had not inspected an infested room.

Sarasota Holiday Inn: Hotel guest received bed bug bites all over body after staying in hotel. Guest filed suit against the hotel and a jury found the owners and managers of the hotel negligent. Dennis Lopez was the attorney that brought the successful suit.  The jury awarded a cash award to replace clothing and for medical expenses.

Video: Successful Bed Bug Hotel Lawsuit

Video on Jury that found a hotel negligent in a bed bug lawsuit.

Waldorf Astoria, New York: A Michigan couple and Long Island woman brought suite against the hotel for bed bugs.  The Michigan woman, Christine Drabicki claimed that she received more than 100 bed bug bites and incurred $8,000 in cleaning bills after staying at the hotel.  The hotel's owner, Hilton, claimed that exterminators found no bed bugs in the hotel in either case.

Read more in this New York Daily News story  titled: "Waldorf-Astoria visit left Michigan family infested by bed bugs, covered in bites and ashamed"

cruise ships

We could not find any cases of lawsuits regarding bed bugs cruise ship problems.  We did find reports of a couple finding bed bugs on a cruise ship and then being offered a discount of a future trip (Resort Trades, July/August 2005).

Employee and work related bed bug lawsuits

Newspaper Reporter Dismissed over Bed Bugs: Reporter George Gombossy, a 40 year veteran of the paper, claims he was dismissed by the Hartford Courant after he claimed a major advertiser, Sleepy's,  sold a bed bug infested mattress.  The paper claims that the reporter failed to reapply for his position after changes in management.



pest control companies

Successful lawsuits have been brought against pest control or extermination companies that have failed to correct, or that have made a problem worse.

Brochures

This brochure is a comprehensive guide to bed bug lawsuits and liability.

Information on liability issues related to bed bugs in the hotel industry
Available in a free Ebook

Overview of laws and litigation related to bed bugs. The impact on hotels and the workplace including damages and settlements.
Available in a free Ebook

questions and Answers

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