OUCH! Actress, husband sue Princess Cruises over alleged bedbug incident

foxBy Janine Puhak | January 16, 2020

Ouch!

An actress who appeared in the film “Marriage Story” and her husband have filed a lawsuit against Princess Cruises, alleging that they suffered such “horrific” exposure to bedbugs during a recent cruise that the woman had to be hospitalized for treatment.

“Marriage Story” actor Connie Flores and her husband Alvin Flores have claimed that they were attacked by the pesky critters during a November cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico, NBC San Diego reports. The couple were traveling on the Emerald Princess ship to celebrate their anniversary over Thanksgiving weekend.

Connie Marie Flores arrives at the Premiere Of Netflix's

Connie Marie Flores arrives at the Premiere Of Netflix’s “Marriage Story” at DGA Theater on November 5, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

The Flores’ said in a recent statement that the bugs “feasted” on them while they slept in an “infested” stateroom, sharing photos of their heads, arms and legs covered in red bumps.

“Imagine yourself on a cruise at sea with your stateroom infested with bedbugs. There was nowhere to go. We were trapped. We felt helpless. There were bedbugs coming out of the pillows and the mattress, we felt betrayed,” Connie claimed.

An image the aftermath from of the alleged bedbug attack.

An image the aftermath from of the alleged bedbug attack. (My Bed Bug Lawyer)

The couple said that they notified the on-board medical staff of the bedbug issue and demanded a relocation to a new room, but the Princess Cruises employees delayed their urgent request.

“They simply were negligent in providing safe premises,” said attorney Brian Virag, founder of the law firm My Bed Bug Lawyer, which is representing the couple in court.

Now, the Flores’ complaint seeks $75,000 in damages for financial loss and personal injury as well as emotional and mental distress in a jury trial, according to NBC.

An image of the aftermath from the alleged bedbug attack.

An image of the aftermath from the alleged bedbug attack. (My Bed Bug Lawyer)

“This was a horrific experience, and no one should ever go through such pain and trauma,” Connie said. “This ordeal has prompted us to be advocates and bring awareness to people who have been exposed to bed bugs.”

A spokesperson for Princess Cruises told Fox News that the cruise line is “limited” regarding what information can be shared about the open suit, but maintained that their employees are “highly trained to identify bedbugs” in staterooms, which are “ALL thoroughly inspected” each month.

An image of the aftermath from the alleged bedbug attack.

An image of the aftermath from the alleged bedbug attack. (My Bed Bug Lawyer)

“We were very sorry to hear about Ms. Flores concerns,” said a cruise line representative. “Princess Cruises is committed to following and often exceed stringent sanitation and health guidelines. Given that this is an open lawsuit, we are limited in what information we can share right now, however it is worth noting, our room attendants are highly trained to identify bedbugs and ALL staterooms are thoroughly inspected each month as a preventative measure.”

“By virtue of how the cruise vacation experience is designed our staterooms receive considerably more cleaning attention by our room attendants than a hotel room on land (twice a day, including evening turn-down service along with a thorough cleaning – including changing linen at the end of each cruise),” they said.

“It would be highly unusual for the presence of bedbugs to go un-noticed for more than the length of one cruise.”

Virag said in the statement that roughly one in every five Americans has either personally experienced bedbugs or knows someone who has.

Hollywood Actress Trapped On A Cruise Ship With Bed Bugs: MYBEDBUGLAWYER™ Files Lawsuit

LOS ANGELESJan. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — MYBEDBUGLAWYERTM, the nation’s leading law firm for Bed Bug Litigation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Connie Flores and her husband Alvin, against Princess Cruises Line over the couple’s horrific exposure in a stateroom infested by bed bugs during a recent cruise from Los Angeles to MexicoConnie Flores is an actress who has recently appeared in the Oscar Nominated Netflix film Marriage Story.MYBEDBUGLAWYER

“Imagine yourself on a cruise at sea with your stateroom infested with bed bugs. There was nowhere to go. We were trapped. We felt helpless. There were bed bugs coming out of the pillows and the mattress, we felt betrayed,” said Mrs. Flores.

Blood can be seen on the pillows while bed bugs crawl under the mattress, as shown by the video the couple recorded. The bed bugs feasted on Connie and her husband as they slept. The bites were so severe that it landed Mrs. Flores in the hospital. Her husband remains traumatized by the entire incident, said Brian Virag, Founder of MYBEDBUGLAWYERTM.2

The emotional suffering, however, continues to be the bigger nightmare for our clients. They continue to relive waking up in the middle of the night imagining bed bugs sucking the blood from their body as they slept, added Virag.

“After this ordeal, I wanted to advocate and bring awareness to people who get exposed to bed bugs. No one should have to go through what we experienced,” said Mrs. Flores.

According to the lawsuit filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles (Case Number 2:19cv09961) by MYBEDBUGLAWYERTM and Law Offices of Aksana Coone (maritime cruise ship injury attorney), the cruise ship knew or should have known of the bed bug infestation and simply failed to protect its passengers from physical and emotional harm. The lawsuit also alleges that the cruise ship’s policies and procedures were inadequate in maintaining the safety of their guests. “They simply were negligent in providing safe premises,” said Virag.

According to Virag, about one in every five Americans has either experienced or knows someone who has experienced bed bugs.

MYBEDBUGLAWYERTM is the only law firm that specializes exclusively in bed bug litigation and has lawsuits pending against Disneyland, the Queen Mary and represents Brazilian Supermodel Sabrina Jales against Hilton Hotels. Virag and his firm have obtained the largest jury verdicts ever recorded in US History for victims of bed bug exposure.

 

‘You’re better off sleeping in your car’: How Paris is plagued by scourge of bed bugs

THE LOCAL | January 10, 2020

The bed bug infestation that is worsening across France has left hoteliers and residents in Paris struggling to find a remedy to a problem that leaves them often out of pocket and out of home.

If the last thing on your mind when staying at a glitzy Paris hotel is having to worry about getting bitten by critters, think again.

A Paris hotel group head has admitted that even high-end hotels in the French capital are affected by a pest infestation that’s getting worse across France.

France’s bed bug problem has seen the number of cases go from 180,000 to 400,000 in just two years.

In 2018 alone, there were 100,000 bed bug infestations in Paris, according to the French Union for Pest Control (CS3D), a scourge that is now also affecting the capital’s hotel industry.

As one TripAdvisor user commented about their stay in a Paris hotel last November: “Bed bugs, no handling of the matter and no treatment. You’re better off sleeping in your car”.

“It’s traumatizing hotel managers, we talk about it among ourselves, but timidly” Jean-Marc D’Orx, general president of Ile-de-France’s Hotel Union, told Le Parisien.

“The hotelier is a victim in this kind of case. It’s not that the hotel is dirty, but it has welcomed people who have brought the bed bugs with them.

“When a room is infested, you have to change all the bedding, the mattress, the bed frame, it can cost anywhere from €300 to €10,000 depending on the category of the hotel.

Aside from these big financial losses (not fully covered by insurance according to D’Orx) and the effect bed bugs can have on a hotel’s reputation, hotel managers also have to close their establishment until new beds have been delivered and pest controls carried out.

In fact, since 2018 any landlord with a rental property in France that’s found to have bed bugs or any other parasite infestation (cockroaches, rats etc), has to cease letting it out, or face a fine of €50,000 to €100,000 for not doing so.

“In Canada, pest control treatments are mandatory when a tenant departs, but unfortunately this is not the case in France,” French housing and social inclusion group Si Toit Lien told Le Monde.

This has resulted in countless unwitting tenants in France having to deal with a serious health and housing problem from the moment they move into their new home.

According to the French Union for Pest Control, 92 percent of French people have at some point found pests in their homes.

But bed bugs – called ‘punaises de lit’ in French – aren’t just being found in beds.

“It’s horrible, even when you’re sure they’re gone you see them everywhere,” a north American reader in Paris who asked to remain anonymous told The Local.

“The cinemas have a problem with them so you start avoiding places.

“You throw out everything that’s part of your bed including the mattress, even though they say all you need to do is wash beddings at 90degrees and it should be fine.

“The pest control guy I got was great. It cost €450 for him to come three times to fumigate. The main problem at my place was the carpet.

“So on top of the cost of fumigation there’s also the expense of staying a night or several nights at a hotel, which often has to happen.

“The fumigator told me bed bugs were by far his biggest business, way above cockroaches and mites, and that he couldn’t keep up with demand despite not advertising.

“The French blame Americans for bringing them over…I got them from an American friend who travels a lot. Bastard.”

The Local’s Paris based editor Ben McPartland said: “A neighbour in my block just dumper their mattress in the street after realising it was teaming with bed bugs. They were everywhere. It was stomach-churning.”

Bed bugs are 7mm-long insects that feed on human blood, usually at night. Their bites can result in skin rashes, allergic reactions and psychological trauma for the person trying to sleep.

After having almost disappeared in the 1950s, bed bugs (Latin name Cimex lectularius) have proliferated in France in recent years.

 

 

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Pill bottles full of bedbugs found in Walmart jacket, men’s department prompt investigation

USA TODAY | by Jordan Culver | January 7, 2019

It’s not uncommon to have an occasional influx of bedbugs at a motel. But at a Walmart?

That’s exactly what police in northwestern Pennsylvania are investigating after several of the creepy critters were found crawling around a Walmart men’s fitting room. Pill bottles containing the bugs were also found in the store.

Law enforcement officers believe the bugs were deliberately released into the Walmart near Erie. The motive isn’t known.

An employee at the Walmart in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, first found a closed pill bottle containing live bed bugs on Thursday, police said. The bottle was found inside a boy’s jacket, which was for sale.

The jacket was “disposed of” according to police, and Ecolab, a company focused on “clean water, safe food and healthy environments,” according to its website, came to the Walmart the next day. An Ecolab employee found and identified the bed begs in the men’s fitting room.

Police were alerted after a second closed pill bottle was found on Saturday. The second bottle contained several dead bed bugs and was found in the men’s department, near the belts, according to police.

“Our third-party pest management service has visited the store, and after conducting a thorough review found no evidence of an infestation,” a Walmart spokesperson said in an email to USA TODAY.

“We believe this to be an isolated incident and are taking all the necessary steps to help ensure a safe environment for customers and associates. We will continue working with law enforcement as they conduct their investigation.”

The second bottle found at the store has been submitted for forensic analysis, according to police. Surveillance video from the store is also under review. Police said Walmart verified the incident was “isolated” after reaching out to other stores in the area.

Bed bugs can be found worldwide, according to the CDC. They don’t spread disease, can live for “several months” without feeding and aren’t considered dangerous, but can infest areas where people sleep and their bites can trigger serious allergic reactions, the CDC says.

Bed Bugs Infuriate Residents At Arlington Heights Complex With ‘World Class Amenities’

CBS 2 CHICAGO | by Tim Nicholas | December 17, 2019

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS (CBS) — An apartment complex boasts of its “world class amenities” on its website, but it doesn’t mention the bed bugs crawling around.

Tenants say it’s been a problem for months, but management hasn’t fixed it at the Residences at Arlington Heights.

Joseph Garnhart showed the CBS 2 Morning Insiders the bed bugs crawling around his bedroom walls.

“Here’s one of them. Two. Three,” he counted. “Four. Five.”

“How many have you seen in here?” a reporter asked.

“Oh, I couldn’t tell you. Oh is that one? That is one.”

Garnhart said he first noticed the uninvited guests more than two weeks ago. They even bit his partner.

He said he let management know right away.

“We’re coming up on three weeks now of living in here [with bed bugs[, and they’re not moving us. We just don’t want to be living in a health hazard,” Garnhart said.

It’s gotten so bad he cleared out his bedroom and is sleeping in the living room. His living situation is a far cry from the “most charming apartments in Arlington Heights” and the “world class amenities” described on the property’s website.

Alicja Mrugala, who lives in the same building as Garnhart, said she moved in Oct. 18 and started finding bed bugs within days.

“It’s just ridiculous,” Mrugala said.

She said she told management right away, and an exterminator treated her apartment two weeks later on Nov 4.

Now she’s worried the bugs could come crawling back upstairs–if they haven’t already.

“In all honesty, what they should do is put everybody in a hotel and fumigate the entire building,” Mrugala said.

It’s the same complex where management called the police on a CBS 2 Morning Insiders reporter back in October when he tried to ask the staff about the gnats and worms another woman found in her apartment, which is located in a separate building from Garnhart and Mrugala’s apartments.

Last week, the staff refused to answer CBS 2’s questions again, and directed a reporter to the company’s corporate office–JRK Property Holdings–based in Los Angeles.

“There’s no comment. You have to deal with corporate,” an employee said at the Arlington Heights office.

JRK owns properties across the country.

The Morning Insiders emailed and called them but the company has not responded.

On the Better Business Bureau’s website, JRK has 54 reviews and every single one has just one star out of five.

One person wrote “…at least they finally got rid of the bed bugs.” But that’s in Portland, Oregon–not Arlington Heights.

“It makes me very angry, especially because this place sells this whole like, luxurious feel and they charge a good price for a one bedroom apartment,” Mrugala said. “You think you’re getting something and then you get bed bugs.”

Another neighbor who lives below Mrugala and across the hall from Garnhart tells CBS 2 she has also seen bed bugs in her apartment.

The Arlington Heights office of Health and Human Services is aware of the problems and will be following up to make sure the complex gets rid of the bugs, a village health officer said.

The health officer said an exterminator is scheduled to return to the building and treat at least two apartments.

The tenants are hoping that works for good this time.

How I got even with the 5-Star Hotel that gave me Bed Bugs

brokelyn.png by Erin Scottberg | November 7, 2017

brokelyn1.jpg

I kept a folder in my phone called #BiteThings before I knew what it was. All photos by Erin Scottberg

Of all the questionable places I’ve spent the night — dingy apartments in Bushwick, shady hostels in Cambodia, cut-rate motels on cross-country road trips — the last place I expected to pick up bed bugs was from a luxury hotel in the Bay Area. But lo and behold, that’s what happened: I brought home one of New York’s biggest nightmares on a cross-country flight from SFO, not on a cross-borough ride on the G train.

On the mildly bright side, I figured getting bed bugs from a fancy, five-star hotel chain that was known for their excellent customer service was at least the best way to get them. There’s no way I’d be responsible for treating my apartment, which I knew could be super expensive. It was their fault, end of story. Sure, they may not have a legal responsibility — a few states have laws protecting hotel guests from bed bugs, though they usually aren’t very effective — but anything else would be bad business.

Turns out, it wasn’t that simple.

This all happened two years ago during a business trip to San Francisco. I was enjoying happy hour with a friend at Rickhouse, a trendy cocktail bar in the Financial District filled with lots of dark wood and tech-engineer types crowded around whiskey barrel tables, when I noticed a small cluster of itchy pink bumps on my foot. As the bartender handed us our drinks, I joked, “The mosquitoes out here just love me!”

“That’s weird,” my friend replied with a confused look. “I don’t think I’ve been bitten once in the seven years I’ve lived here.”

I was so used to being the one who gets eaten alive while everyone else remains unscathed that I thought nothing of it. Having never lived there, I had no idea that the Bay Area has basically zero mosquitoes.

That night, I tucked myself once again into my fancy, king-sized hotel bed. Two days later I flew back to Brooklyn and crawled into my own bed for a daytime nap.

__________

A victim of ‘Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner’ bites, I wasn’t about to give up.

brokelyn2.jpg

Once I saw ‘breakfast, lunch and dinner’ bites, I knew it was bedbugs.

I woke up a few hours later with three big, itchy red bumps on my thigh. The next morning, there were a few more. When the same thing happened a third time, I assumed a mosquito had gotten into my apartment when I was out of town so I Googled “How to catch a mosquito” and started taking advice from internet commenters.

I’m no fool. Of course I’d suspected bed bugs, but I had no evidence — no physical bugs, no reddish-brown marks where I might have squashed one after it bit me, not even any “brown, coffee-grind like residue” I’d been told to look for (it’s their poop). And I’d been searching hard. Plus, I couldn’t come up with a source. I hadn’t had any house guests, hadn’t lugged home sidewalk furniture, hadn’t seen a movie at The Pavilion. The only possibility was that fancy hotel. But surely they’d have that stuff on lock to keep their reputation pristine?

After nearly two weeks of dotting each bite with a marker before bed to keep track of new bites, I woke up to three in a row on the side of my left shin — breakfast, lunch and dinner, as it’s called in bedbug-savvy circles. I was disgusted and freaking out. I tore apart my bed more thoroughly than ever, flipping over the box spring and prying the fabric from the frame with a butter knife while peaking in with a flashlight. Finally, after half an hour of hunting, there they were: two tiny, slightly reddish bed bugs tucked underneath a staple on the bottom side of my box spring.

Redemption. Success. An intense feeling of violation. Terror. Fears of bankruptcy and social ostracization and having to throw out everything I owned and start from scratch. The irony of having travelled to the opposite coast only to come face to face with New York’s public enemy number one was not lost on me. For a hot minute (ok, probably about 15 minutes), I lost it. I sat on my floor in the middle of my basic metal bed frame and cried.

But then, I started handling shit. And I was going to go after that fucking hotel.

___________

brokelyn3

I lived out of bags I kept in my kitchen, which was declared bed bug free.

First, I went to the hardware store for construction grade trash bags, mattress bags (like the kind you use for moving) and duct tape and sealed up pretty much everything in my bedroom — bedding, books, the actual luggage I’d used in SF. Anything that could went straight to the laundromat for a high-temp wash and dry. When the exterminators came later, they complimented my work.

Next, I called the hotel.

The manager listened calmly, then he explained that they couldn’t inspect the room because it was currently occupied.

I was incredulous. “Well, get them out of there! It has bed bugs!” He took down my contact info and said he’d get back to me. They didn’t seem to be taking things seriously.

The next day I got an email thanking me “for reaching out to us regarding any bed bug concerns that you have” and explaining that “after the inspection conducted today we did find minimal bed bug activity in the room.”

Minimal. Ha. The email then went on to explain how bed bugs aren’t a reflection of a hotel’s cleanliness (true) and are just a result of travelers (also true) and I should probably do my laundry and call a professional (obviously), and oh, won’t you please stay with us again?

I wasn’t about to spend thousands of dollars on professional extermination brought on by the hotel’s own negligence, so I asked about their plan to cover my fumigation costs. After a few days of general corporate non-answers, they explained that they had to follow the appropriate process and get their insurance company involved. Sounded good to me — they’d already said, in writing, that my room had bed bugs. Of course they were going to take responsibility for the situation.

_________

brokelyn4.jpg

I became BFFs with the crew at the laundromat.

Encouraged by the hotel’s management to “accelerate the process” at my personal cost (“keeping my receipts to be reimbursed”), I hired a pest control company. They decided to “bomb” my closet (where I’d hung unworn clothes from the trip and stored my luggage) and bookshelves (where I’d replaced paperwork and other books) with Nuvan strips and treat other potentially affected areas with Cryonite, a rapidly freezing carbon dioxide snow-like compound that goes by the tagline “The chill that kills”. Both treatments would require the items be out of commision for about a month. The total cost was just shy of $3,000.

Meanwhile, my battle ground had moved from the hotel to their insurance company. I was required to give a recorded statement to a claims specialists describing the ordeal. During our conversation, the specialist asked multiple times whether I’d turned down cleaning services at all during my stay. Luckily, I hadn’t. Turns out this is because checking for bed bugs is part of the cleaning checklist. If I’d told them to stay out of the room, then they wouldn’t have had a chance to inspect (however poorly) for bed bugs. This gave me leverage. (Ever since, I always accept the cleaning service — you can still tell them not to replace your sheets for environmental reasons, but at least allow them to come in and remake the bed.)

On top of all this, I’d learned via the public bedbug registry (it’s a thing!) that other guests had had the same problem around the same time. Given that irrefutable evidence, it’s understandable how livid I was that when the insurance company called a couple weeks later to let me know they determined the hotel not at fault.

A vendetta was born. I became a woman with a single mission: Make. Them. Pay.

___________

My apartment has a few recessed areas like this which are easy to seal off and treat.

brokelyn5.jpg

Luckily, my apartment has a few recessed areas like this which are easy to seal off and treat.

I’ve spent most of my career in online publishing in some form or another. I fully understand the power of SEO. And as a hotel — or anyone in the service industry — you reputation is everything. I started searching and found that there were multiple variations of “HOTELNAMEhasbedbugs.com” available. Two minutes later, I was the proud owner of a new URL. It was incredibly cathartic. I started dreaming of how I would detail every story, every photo and every dollar of my ordeal — all due to this hotel — to the world. I had mentally psyched myself up for my inevitable appearance on The Today Show during which my chyron would read “’Crazy Bed Bug Lady’ publically shames hotel into taking responsibility for their mistake”.

I sent word of my plans to the hotel, making it clear that I, too, could be a pest who wouldn’t go away.

After a month of continual phone calls, strongly worded emails and more conversations with their insurance company, I finally received an email from the hotel manager stating that “due to the nature of our business as well as our understanding of your frustration with this situation we would like as a hotel, regardless of fault, [to] reimburse you for the expenses you submitted.” Save your receipts, kids! I signed some papers — hence why I haven’t mentioned the chain’s name — and got my check. Blood had been shed (well, more like feasted on) but the battle had been won.

A few weeks later, I was able to remove the plastic sealing off my bookshelves and closet, and I no longer needed to pick my clothes out of trash bags. I was able to stop going to the laundromat every other day and I felt comfortable, kind of, replacing my duvet and bringing things into my house. Roscoe, the bed bug detecting beagle, did a complete sniff-test and cleared my apartment. I was happier to receive that piece of paper than I was my college degree.

__________

I recently found this guy crawling on my floor and I freaked out. I sent pics to the exterminators I used but it was just a beetle. Phew!

brokelyn6.jpg

I found this guy crawling on my floor and I freaked out, sent pics to the exterminators. But it was just a beetle.

But there are still times when I’m not convinced. I find a random, itchy bump on my elbow and tense up. I wake up to a red spot on the back of my shin and I’m flipping over the mattress. Earlier this summer, I was at a wedding in the Catskills where all of the guests stayed in cabins and when I got back to New York, I noticed my back looked like a game of connect the dots. I sent a text to the group asking “What’s everyone’s bug bite situation? I have so many it’s unreal. I’m nervous…” I wasn’t the only one.

A few hours later, we figured out we were dealing with chiggers, not bed bugs. While the others slept soundly that night, I dug out my markers and dotted each bite I could reach before going to bed and woke up early to do my laundry before work. Just in case.

That’s the thing with bed bugs. They’re not going to make you sick, or cause you any actual harm. But they can slowly drive you crazy, cost you more than twice your rent money, and make you fear for every bite, itch and bump you’ll ever have, for the rest of your life.

And while a business can’t possibly return your sense of security, they absolutely can — and should — take responsibility for their errors and make sure you don’t drain your savings (or go into debt) trying to recover from their mistake. If it comes down to it, just take a cue from our blood-sucking friends and keep at it for as long as you need to (and maybe register a domain name or two). Eventually, they’ll do whatever it takes to make you go away.

‘They had students’ coats and backpacks in plastic bags: Multiple cases of bed bugs confirmed at RPS Elementary School

NEWS 12 WWBT | by Kelly Avellino | December 10, 2019
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RICHMOND, Va. – RPS officials confirm the first case surfaced in mid-November. Parents in the classroom were notified and the room impacted was treated. Now, several weeks later, more instances of bed bugs have been reported.

“I’m definitely thinking of keeping my child out of school, possibly, because I don’t want to take any chances of him bringing anything into the home,” said the parent.

This is not the first time RPS has combated a bed bug outbreak in its facilities, also treating MLK preschool earlier in the school year. At least seven schools were treated in 2016.

“It’s as easy as just sitting next to somebody and a bug crawling onto that child,” said Tres Bedell, owner of RVA Thermal Heat which specializes in eradicating bed bugs using heat of up to 145 degrees. “That (bug) could be a queen and have up to 50, 60 eggs. So, it happens extremely quickly.”

Bedell suggests carefully inspecting your child’s clothing before going inside the house. If possible, have your child change in the garage or another area first, putting their outer clothing worn at school in a pillowcase.

“Put (the clothing) in the pillowcase. Tie a knot. Throw it in the dryer at high heat for about an hour, and it’ll kill anything that’s on there,” said Bedell.

RPS is also helping families that may have bed bug issues in their homes.

Parents should call the main office at Overby-Sheppard Elementary School at (804) 329-2515.

Bed bugs at The Carlton? Guest says Atascadero hotel stay left him with ‘physical scarring’

carlton hotel_2

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.

You and the Law: Father bugged by school’s handling of son’s bed bug issue

Related imageby Dennis Beaver | December 6, 2019

It might be cute to hear a three-year old sing, “As snug as a bug in a rug,” but there’s nothing cute at all about having your home infested with bed bugs. But that’s what “Rudy” and his family dealt with in July, 2019 when their home became bed bug central.

“A pest control service got the infestation under control, but it was an expensive nightmare,” he explained during our telephone conversation. He had been on the phone to a number of attorneys wanting someone to file suit against the school district for the way a teacher and administrators dealt with his nine year old son who showed up at school with a bed bug on his jacket, the morning of October 8th.

After an absence of about 40 years, bed bugs have made a stunning worldwide return, and while it is rare for schools to become infested, still, in many parts of the country, finding even one bed bug on a student is considered as a public health emergency. All schools that receive federal funds must have extensive “What to do if” contingency plans in effect.

Taken to the Nurse’s Office

“From what my son, David, explained, as he walked into his classroom by the teacher, she spotted a bed bug on his jacket and immediately walked with him to the nurse’s office. While there, his jacket was removed, they lifted his shirt, examined his back and legs for evidence of bites or bugs themselves, but found none. Then, he was brought back to his classroom.”

You are probably thinking, “Thank goodness! That’s what they should have done! Why is the boy’s father upset?” That’s what I thought as well, and asked to speak with his son who also confirmed that everyone was nice to him.

“They all knew that we had bedbugs because I told my friends about the problem at home. It was really exciting!” this very polite, well-spoken nine year-old happily explained.

I Am going to Post the School’s Illegal Behavior!

However dad was furious, threatening to post what he felt was illegal conduct by all the people involved with David and the bed bug. But why? As the boy wasn’t harmed in the least, what had they done that was so wrong?

“They legally had the obligation of calling me first for permission to remove David’s coat or examine him! That’s what! I want a lawyer to sue them, and I’m going to post this on Facebook and other social media sites, listing all the names of those people.”

Well, not so fast, Rudy. In researching his school’s policy for dealing with bedbug issues, while it is required for a parent to be notified at some time, procedure calls for just what happened. They did the right thing. It is a public health concern where time is critical – so these little vampires don’t go looking for a human blood bank.

I asked Rudy if he thought about the consequences of posting what would amount to defamatory statements about these people. “What do you mean, consequences? Like getting them fired?”

“No,” I replied, “like getting yourself sued, creating a problem for your son down the road, and as such a suit would most likely be thrown out of court, still your names would remain out there forever, seen as troublemakers. Want to guess what I am thinking of?”

He had no idea.

Think Over Carefully Before Posting Anything Negative Online

I ran this all too common fact situation by two of our consultants for their evaluations:

–San Francisco-based attorney Richard Lutkus who is among a handful of lawyers in the country whose law practice concentrates on “cyber-security preparedness, data breach response, and data privacy.”

–California licensed private investigators, Riley and Jane Parker, who are the founders of Pre-Employment Profiles, LLC, a service for employers who need to vet would-be applicants.

“By posting false remarks online you are open to being sued for defamation, so assume that you cannot delete them ever. It is out there. Understand that whatever your write can be developed into a profile of who you are,” Lutkus points out, adding, “Just ask yourself–better yet, ask a friend–before posting something when you are angry–especially if it could be false–‘How could this come back and harm me?”

Both Riley and Jane Parker want Rudy to stop and ask, “By posting defamatory comments, or, if you find a lawyer who sues the school, just count on a background search that will have you and your son labeled as trouble. This will impact an employer’s decision to hire you, and could adversely affect your son’s future.”

Bed Bugs at the OFFICE – part of Truman State Office building closed

 Noah Brown | 

Two separate reports of bed bugs Wednesday at the Harry S. Truman State Office Building in Jefferson City were enough to close off two sections of the second floor.

The first report came from a manager who discovered the pests in her home a couple of weeks ago. She contacted Missouri Facilities Management Design and Construction to make them aware of the situation and to let them know she had taken care of the problem at her house. FMDC set bed bug monitors in the office and did a detailed vacuuming of the space.

Six bed bugs were recently found in a separate instance in the same space around office suites 270 and 280. Pest control dogs inspected the area today and found an additional three bed bugs.

A pest control company will be in the office over the next several days to perform a steam kill and treat the carpets.

According to the University of Minnesota, steamers are largely effective at killing bed bugs. Steamers can heat carpeting to around 180 degrees and penetrate up to 3/4 of an inch deep into carpeting.

A spokesperson for the Truman building said they’re hopeful the closed-off sections will be open sometime early next week.

While bed bugs are more prevalent in summer months, they are an indoor pest and won’t die off in the winter like others might.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has guidelines for identifying and removing the pests should they appear in a person’s home.

According to the health department, bed bugs go through six stages of development throughout their life, all of which can be seen with the naked eye. Before a bed bug can grow to the next stage of its life cycle, they have to feed. That’s when they bite humans, as they get their nutrients exclusively from blood.

The department advises to clean and declutter your living space to help make the bugs more visible. Vacuuming regularly and doing laundry at a high heat will help kill any bugs that have found their way into carpeting and onto clothing.

Special casings are also available to help prevent the pest from reaching bedding.

If bugs are found, the department advises catching several in a plastic bag or containers without crushing them and to call a pest control agency. This will allow a professional to identify the pest for certain and develop the best removal solution.

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