The Tribune | by Matt Fountain | December 3, 2019
Update, 1:45 p.m. Wednesday:
On Wednesday afternoon, Deana Alexander, general manager of The Carlton Hotel, emailed the following statement in response to Tuesday’s article:
“The Carlton Hotel takes pride in being an established premier property on the Central Coast of California, known for its hospitality, cleanliness, comfort, and value. Management takes reports of bed bugs very seriously. When a guest reports that there may be bed bugs, all measures are taken to address the situation immediately. Quarantine, inspection and eradication if necessary are the steps taken with complete concern for the guests and others that will be in that room.
Our housekeeping staff is trained and diligent about looking for the signs of bed bugs. Our mattresses have been encased in ‘bed bug’ zippered protective covering. No expense is spared when there are reports of bed bugs that have ‘traveled’ in with guests as bed bugs move around by finding their way into purses, backpacks, suitcases, briefcases, clothing, and jackets.
A Los Angeles man who stayed at The Carlton Hotel in Atascadero in 2017 says bed bugs in his room left him with physical and emotional “scarring,” according to a lawsuit filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
Moreover, the guest says hotel staff knew that a previous infestation in the room had not been eradicated, but “turned a blind eye” and checked him in anyway.
The lawsuit alleges hotel staff was negligent, fraudulently concealed the problem, and contributed to a public nuisance, naming the business as well as owner David Weyrich and a past manager as defendants.
The plaintiff, Geoffrey Shelden, is seeking damages of at least $25,000 for medical care and to replace personal property that reportedly had to be destroyed.
When reached by phone Monday, The Carlton Hotel’s general manager, Deana Alexander, told The Tribune she was not aware of Shelden’s lawsuit — which was filed in April — but called the allegations untrue.
After being provided the complaint, Alexander, who is not personally listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, did not respond to followup requests for comment.
Ilan Rosen Janfaza, Shelden’s Los Angeles-based attorney, declined to comment Monday beyond what’s listed in the complaint and said he was unable to immediately provide photographs of his client’s bug bites.
HOTEL GUEST ‘BITTEN DOZENS OF TIMES’
In the complaint, filed April 4, Janfaza wrote that bed bugs, “small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep,” have recently been “spreading rapidly” through parts of the United States, including in five-star hotels and resorts.
Contrary to popular belief, the pests’ presence are “not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found,” the lawsuit states, citing the Centers for Disease Control website.
The CDC says that bed bug bites have different effects on people, from no reaction to severe anaphylaxis, or allergic reaction.
Sheldon stayed at The Carlton Hotel on April 7, 2017, and the next day “awoke to itchiness and discomfort on his body, but did not think much of it,” the complaint reads.
He checked out later that day. About 10 days later, Shelden “noticed that the severity of his itching had worsened and that he was in fact bitten dozens of times from head to toe.”
“He also realized that his bite marks were in a trail-type formation,” the lawsuit states.
DID THE CARLTON ‘TURN A BLIND EYE’ TO COMPLAINTS?
A doctor reportedly diagnosed Shelden with bed bug exposure on April 18, 2017.
As a result of his diagnosis and treatment, Shelden incurred costs related to medical treatment, the cost of the room and replacement of luggage and clothing, as well as other expenses, according to the complaint.
“To this day, Mr. Shelden still has physical scarring on his body and emotional scarring as a result of the bed bug bites,” the lawsuit reads.
The complaint further accuses staff at The Carlton of knowing that the room had previously been the site of a bed bug infestation that had not been eradicated when it was rented to Shelden.
The lawsuit alleges that The Carlton Hotel’s staff also “recklessly chose to turn a blind eye” to previous complaints by guests. Ignoring those previous complaints show a “pattern and culture of extreme indifference and reckless disregard for the value of human life and the rights of (the hotel’s) guests.”
“(Shelden) has suffered and continues to suffer physical injuries (including, but not limited to, bed bug bites, itching, and permanent scarring) and emotional injuries (including, but not limited to, severe embarrassment, annoyance, discomfort, pain, apprehension, tension, anxiety, and emotional distress) as a direct result of his stay at (The Carlton Hotel),” the complaint reads.
The case has a hearing scheduled in the Paso Robles Courthouse in April.