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Liability/Case Law for Bed Bugs

In the world that we live in today we are seeing more and more lawsuits being filed against establishments that rent housing or sleeping quarters to the public and knowingly or unknowingly expose tenant(s) to bed bug infestations. People want to know how they got bedbugs and then they want to know why somebody didn’t protect them from these pests.

The cost associated with early detection and surveillance far outweighs the potential losses due to late detection. Discovering a bed bug infestation once a moderate to major infestation has taken hold dramatically increases the cost! There may be litigation brought by tenant(s), lost revenues due to not being able to rent the room or home, tarnished public image and negative press, renters may register the establishment on or similar websites, high cost to eradicate the bugs and may take several repeated treatments verses one treatment.

Do not run the risk of having a nightmare on your hands, be proactive! Place your property on a quarterly contract for inspections. This can help catch a bed bug introduction early and potentially decrease the cost of eradication and lost revenues. Hire competent and professional staff that can be trained to be on the lookout for signs that bed bugs have been introduced.  An example of a bedbug lawsuit involving a hotel establishment and tenants is:

Mathias v. Accor, 7th Cir.2003, a Federal court case brought against Motel 6 in downtown Chicago where residents of the hotel were bitten by bedbugs.  The Jury awarded 2 Plaintiffs compensatory damages of $5,000 each and $186,000 in punitive damages. Basically, they ruled that the establishments’ failure to avoid a known risk was amply shown. The hotel had sprayed hotel rooms, but failed to exterminate the bedbugs. The exterminator had made note that he advised management to close the hotel so that every room could be treated and he also noted that the hotel refused to comply. (It is standard practice for pest control operators to keep journals or logs regarding their profession.) In addition, there was evidence that a management-level employee was aware of the problem, but had failed to eliminate it or to warn guest of the bedbug issue.

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