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Lawsuits Are Starting to be Filed in Illinois

(© Copyright 2011 Shawn Cole. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


It started in New York and now there are lawsuits being filed against hotels all across the U.S.  While people have been disgusted with hotels that had cockroaches, it seems that  when it comes to bed bugs, people are starting to file lawsuits after being bitten by bed bugs.    Bed bugs are now found in high-class hotels.  This is no longer the problem of low-class, dirty hotels in bad neighborhoods.

In Illinois, a brother and  sister (Burl and Desiree Mathias) were visiting Chicago for a trade show and staying at a local Motel 6 in November of 2000.  After being bitten by bed bugs, the siblings filed a lawsuit (Mathias v. Accor Econ. Lodging, 347F.3d 672 (2003) and won.  The jury awarded each plantiff $5,000 in compensatory damages and $186,000 each in punitive damages.  The Seventh Circuit of Appeals (juristiction is Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana), upheld the award for the compensatory and punitive damages.  Judge Posner found that the evidence was sufficient to show  willful and wanton conduct because the owners had known they had bed bugs for two years prior to renting the rooms to the siblings.  Judge Posner stated in his decision the hotel should have taken action to eliminate the bed bugs.

The federal government has banned the use of DDT,  which  was used during the 1940's and 1950's,   that all but eliminated bed bugs in the U.S.  There are very few pesticides  left that will kill bed bugs.   The Illinois legislture is  discussing the possibilty of petitioning the federal government to waiver previouisly banned insecticides in order to treat bed bugs in residential units.

Building Owners Need to Take Action to Protect Themselvesd

When the owner of an apartment building is told by his tenant that there is a bed bug problem, it is no longer an option to ignore the problem and blame it on the tenant.  While the lawsuit in the previous example was for a Motel 6, it will only be a very short leap to extend that line of reasoning to owners of apartment buildings.  Even though an apartment owner may feel that the tenant caused the problem,  there is now a court precedence that the owner of a hotel was held liable for not only compensatory damage but punitive damage  -- and lawyers will argue why shouldn't apartment building owners be held liable too.  Courts tend to side with victims.  

 There are a few internet web sites published by personal injury lawyers who are writing articles and advertising that they  specialize in suing for bed bug bites.  It won't be too long before personal injury lawyers will be advertising on television seeking victims. 

The victims may have had their blood sucked by bed bugs

but the lawyers will be sucking your blood. 

It appears that it is now extremely important that an owner of  an apartment building  to hire a pest management professional (exterminator) to rid your building of bed bugs or face possible lawsuits for ignoring the problem.  As a practical note, it is cheaper to hire a pest  professional to eradicate the bed bugs than to hire an attorney to defend you in a personal liablity lawsuit.