Jury settlements for bed bug bites continue to pester the hotel industry
by Tommy Underhill
May 3, 2018
Bed bug lawsuits targeted towards the hospitality industry are nothing new. The unsettling trend is the dramatic increase in jury awards.
Juries often award bitten hotel guests large sums of money because of a preponderance of evidence the hotel did not do enough to remediate an infestation before renting the room. As Tom Allen commented recently after discovering bed bugs in a hotel room in Galveston, Texas: “I suspect they continued to rent out the room.” There is a feeling that the hotel management just doesn’t care when they put a guest into a room they know is infected. A suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleged battery, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, fraudulent concealment, and private nuisance.
In October, 2017, the LA Times reported that an Arkansas family was awarded $546,000 in a lawsuit from bedbug bites received at a Rancho Cucamonga, California hotel. Plaintiffs are becoming increasingly aggressive towards what they perceive as an uncaring and complacent hotel industry. “I’m hopeful this verdict will send a message throughout the industry to make sure adequate policies, procedures, and protocol are in place so that other people are not needlessly endangered,” said the attorney representing the family. The lawsuit alleged the manager knew of the bedbugs in the room but “failed to disclose, inspect, or warn plaintiffs of the presence of these filthy infestations at the premises.”
Because chemical treatments are not ovicidal to bed bug eggs, a traditional, once-and-done treatment performed in reaction to a guest-reported infestation will not alleviate the threat of a large financial settlement. When a room is chemically treated, the surviving eggs can hatch ten to fourteen days later, and the infestation continues. Juries are receptive to claims hotel management is not proactively protecting their guests and customers from an insect pest known to frequent the industry.
Bed bugs are expert hitch-hikers. Kill them all today and someone will bring them back to you tomorrow.
When properly applied, heat is 100% effective in killing all stages of bed bugs—including eggs, 100% of the time. Our ePro electric heater packages can discreetly treat a hotel room in a day. Our Titan propane heaters can effectively treat the same-sized area in much less time. When applied following a thorough heat treatment, GreenTech Prevent can continue to prevent recurrent bedbug reintroduction reinfestations for up to a year. GreenTech Heat Solutions can certify your heat treatments when combined with GreenTech Prevent to help mitigate the potential of recurrent bedbug infestations.
What will tomorrow bring?
Here’s a scary thought: I can see these types of bed bug lawsuits and settlements expanding beyond the hospitality industry. Theaters, restaurants, libraries, stores, offices, rental cars, busses, airplanes, cruise ships, and many other businesses are susceptible to bed bug infestations. Reputations, as well as insurance premiums, are on the line.
Dealing with a lawsuit can be an expensive and time-consuming nuisance even when summarily dismissed. Having a proactive plan in place to eliminate bed bugs in the first place may be a business’ first (and most effective) line of defense.