Bedbug bill leads to eviction, Savannah woman says

May 21, 2019  by Martin Staunton

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A Savannah woman says a problem with bedbugs and maintenance issues led to her eviction.

The single mother & new grandmother is now looking for a new place to live over a dispute she lost in court with her landlord, Timberland Apartments.

39-year old Juanita Porter says she’s lived in Savannah her entire life, but this is the first time she’s been evicted.

“I’m humiliated,” she said, choking back tears. “It’s really breaking me and if I break, my whole family breaks, because I am all my kids have. And the thing that makes it so bad is I got to put my personal business on the news just to be heard.”

On her final day as a resident, Porter received some of her final guests — a pair of code compliance to investigate her complaints of shoddy maintenance, windows, wall cracks, and bedbugs.

Porter says she should have called long ago when a bad situation grew worse.

“When I moved in Timberland two years ago in A-12, I’d been having problems with mold, plumbing,” she explained, adding that she dealt with flooding and mold. “I’ve lost half of my belongings in A-12. So I got an emergency move in September 2018.”

Once she was moved into the new apartment, Porter said she discovered bedbugs were present.

“Last week of March, first week of April I saw bedbug activity. I was bitten up,” she said, adding, “When I reported it to the landlord, they sent the exterminator out, who confirmed it was bedbugs.”

Porter says there was a $750 fee attached to her rent payment for the bedbug treatment.

“I signed the promise to pay before I found out about the infestation. I was trying to do the right thing,” she said. “Never had a problem with rent. There were times they had to credit me because they were overcharging me from Section 8 and I had to go to my caseworker for her to clarify it.”

News 3 went to the leasing office to speak with someone to get answers. The current property manager at Timberland Apartments identified herself as Miss Sunny.

She declined an on-camera interview saying “no comment.” Miss Sunny cited tenant privacy issues as to why she could not talk to News 3 about Porter’s eviction.

Porter says this situation is taking a toll on two fronts.

“They’re not only retaliating, hurting me financially, they’re hurting me and my children emotionally,” she said, adding, “I lost everything and people know I work hard to get everything I had on my own…on my own and now we’re put out.”

Porter is now out of time to find a new home, but while it may be her first eviction, it’s not her first fight for something she believes is right.

“I fought my way through college. Four long years, for that special day to be taken away from me,” she said. “That’s not right and every time I go and talk to them they and they’re always making it like it’s my fault because I don’t know the codes, I don’t know what’s supposed to be what.  I don’t know what they can get away with.”

Porter says she did sign a promissory note to cover the eviction cost and that’s how the landlord won the case against her. She says she’s stepping forward to remind renters to be very mindful of all the language in the lease, or you could find yourself covering an expense you may not believe you’re responsible for.

Once the code compliance inspection is complete, Timberland Apartments will be notified of any violations found and given time to fix them.

 

Starbucks accused of exposing New York City customers to toxic pesticide

NBC

One of two lawsuits filed against the coffee company states that Starbucks stores “have for many years been permeated with a toxic pesticide.”

starbucks

A sign hangs in the window of a Starbucks store on May 29, 2018 in Chicago.                                           Scott Olson / Getty Images

May 21, 2019, 3:32 PM EDT
By Minyvonne Burke
Two lawsuits filed against Starbucks claim that several New York City stores exposed customers to a poisonous — and potentially deadly — pesticide toxin, and then fired a store manager who complained about them.

In one class action suit, filed on Tuesday in state court in Manhattan, 10 Starbucks customers claim that they were “exposed to the toxic chemical” Dichlorvos, or DDVP, after making purchases in multiple city stores over the last three years.

DDVP is an ingredient that is emitted into the air by a pesticide called Hot Shot No-Pest Strips, which are produced by Spectrum Brand Holdings.

The lawsuit states that Starbucks uses the strips in its Manhattan stores to keep cockroaches and other pests away. The strips, which can be purchased in many home and garden stores as well as online, kill insects but are also harmful to human beings, according to the lawsuit.

Spectrum Brand Holdings did not immediately return NBC News’ request for comment.

Photos accompanying the lawsuit show the strips next to bagels and food preparation equipment and near air vents.

“Starbucks stores throughout Manhattan have for many years been permeated with a toxic pesticide called Dichlorvos, which is highly poisonous and completely unfit for use in proximity to food, beverages and people,” the suit says.

The lawsuit states that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says pesticides containing DDVP should only be used in enclosed spaces where people are either not present or are given a respirator or other breathing apparatus.

According to the Hot Shot website, the strips should not be used “in kitchens, restaurants or areas where food is prepared or served.”
Exposure to DDVP can result in symptoms which include loss of bladder control, muscle tremors and weakness, trouble breathing, nausea and paralysis, the lawsuit states. Severe exposure can result in coma and death.

“On numerous occasions over the last several years, Starbucks’ employees and third-party exterminators have informed regional and district management – both verbally and in writing – about the improper and dangerous use of No-Pest Strips throughout stores in Manhattan,” according to the lawsuit.

“Needless to say, Starbucks has closely held this information and has not disclosed to the public that DDVP has poisoned the environment in its stores.”

The suit alleges that the customers, who are from New York, South Carolina and California, experienced emotional distress and anxiety “that they would develop serious health issues.” They are seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

In the second suit, also filed Tuesday in Manhattan’s federal court, a former Starbucks employee claims he was abruptly fired in February 2018 after complaining about the misuse of the pesticide strips.

A pest control technician who worked at multiple Manhattan Starbucks locations, and his supervisor, also allege that from 2016 to 2018 they made several complaints about the strips. In June 2018, Starbucks terminated its contract with the pest control company to silence the technician’s “repeated reports and complaints about the foregoing risks to health and safety,” according to the suit.

The former employee, technician and supervisor are seeking unspecified damages.

A spokesperson for Starbucks said Tuesday that the pesticide strips were being used in violation of its policy and once it was made aware of the complaints, the company stopped using them. The spokesperson also said they hired an outside expert who determined that Starbucks’ customers and employees were not put at risk.

Misled About BedBugs? Ask Real Estate

Apartment_BBS.jpg

Michael Kolomatsky/The New York Times

The New York Times | by Ronda Kaysen | November 21, 2014

Q. My wife and I recently signed a one-year lease for an apartment. It included a rider stating that all apartments in our building had been bedbug-free for at least one year before our move-in date. After we moved in, we learned from the superintendent that an apartment in our building had been infested by bedbugs and treated a few weeks before our move-in date. Needless to say, we were disturbed by this news — and want to know our rights. As we understand it, the landlord is responsible for the costs of fumigating. Who is responsible for other expenses, like replacing mattresses and furniture? Since we were misled (and have the signed rider as proof), can we demand remuneration for any repairs or replacement costs we might be forced to incur?

Astoria, Queens

A. There are two plausible explanations for what happened here, neither of them good. Either your landlord was woefully ill-informed about the state of the building or he lied. In either case, I would be concerned about how effectively the infested apartment was treated for bedbugs, which are notoriously hardy creatures.

“If this is a landlord who is willing to lie on a disclosure form,” said David Hershey-Webb, a lawyer who represents tenants, “then the tenants may not have a lot of faith in the landlord to adequately address the bedbug problem.”

The New York City administrative code requires landlords to disclose whether or not an apartment has been treated for bedbugs in the last year. The measure does not include any penalties for violating the law. However, if you do get bedbugs and incur damage to your personal property, you could take the landlord to small claims court and use that erroneous disclosure form as evidence of negligence. Under normal circumstances, a landlord is required to treat the infestation and a tenant is responsible for cleaning personal belongings, Mr. Hershey-Webb said.

But before we wander too far down the road of future infestations, determine your risk. If the affected apartment is adjacent to yours or in the same line, you have good reason for concern. But if several floors and walls separate you from that apartment, your risk is considerably lower.

“If it’s an immediately adjacent unit or if it’s in that line, it could have an effect,” said Gil Bloom, the president of Standard Pest Management and an entomologist. “Outside of that, it normally does not make a difference.”

Once you have assessed your risk, decide whether you want to stay in the apartment. Ultimately, you might want to consider packing up your belongings and moving out before the bugs move in. You “have the option to try to rescind the lease on the basis of fraud,” Mr. Hershey-Webb said. Consult with a lawyer to see if you can get out of the lease. Otherwise, you may find yourself battling a bedbug infestation with a dishonest landlord.

Bedbug Problem Continues Despite Lawsuit

DES MOINES, Iowa | August 21, 2015 | Aaron Brilbeck — Nine months after the City of Des Moines was slapped with a class action lawsuit over a bedbug infestation at a public housing complex, the problem apparently continues.  Robert Straub of Des Moines lives at Royal View Manor.  He says the bedbugs are so bad, he missed his granddaughter’s second birthday party.   “It’s like having leprosy. When you have bedbugs it’s like you’re a leper.” Straub said, “You know, nobody in their right mind wants you over at their house if they suspect you’re gonna track a bedbug in there.”

Attorney Jeffery Lipman filed the suit. He’s the guy who last year was awarded $2.45 million from the city after he sued because of a similar problem at Elsie Mason Manor. The suit also resulted in new protocols being put into place at Elsie Mason to combat bedbugs.  Protocols that Lipman says are needed at Royal View Manor.  “And if you have that you’re on top of the problem. If you don’t it’s going to explode into a disastrous situation.” Lipman said,  “And it has.”

The city says it’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years combating the bedbugs at Royal View Manor.  Beyond that, the city can’t comment because of the pending lawsuit.

Straub says he doesn’t care about a multi-million dollar settlement. The 60-year old cancer patient says he just wants his remaining years to be bedbug free.  “This bedbug issue is more anxiety provoking to me than cancer is. I accept the cancer. I know my treatment options. I know what they’re gonna do. But this bedbug issue..”Straub said, “I’m really starting to feel like a leper”.

Motel owners agree to pay more than $500k to settle lawsuit

Bakersfield

Nov. 10, 2015 | | Bakersfield, CA

A motel on Union Avenue dealing with major problems since 2013 will now have to pay up more than half a million dollars after settling a lawsuit.

The District Attorney’s office sued the owners of the Tropicana Motel, Bobby and Shobhana Patel, because of a number of issues with their building that eventually forced their residents to be evicted.

John Mitchell works in the victim’s services unit of the DA’s office and said the problem was so bad that bugs were spilling out into the parking lot. He calls it the worst housing situation he’s ever seen.

“An inspection revealed vermin infestations including mice, roaches and bed bugs; plumbing hazards; exposed electrical wiring; inadequate and broken weather stripping; lack of adequate heating appliances; non-working smoke detectors; exposed electrical wiring; and general dilapidation,” wrote Mitchell in a press release.

Usually if something like this happens to a business, Kern County Public Health gets involved. They close the place down, the business cleans up, and then it reopens.

However, Mitchell said this case was too drastic to be handled administratively. One challenge involved trying to help the people who lived there. Many of them didn’t want to leave because the only other alternative was homelessness.

“They’re poor folks,” said Mitchell. “They’re the ones who would be the easier, I think, to get ignored.”

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez used $10,000 to help the 150 tenants who were evicted. She was horrified to see what was going on.

“It was really the most disgusting and heartbreaking thing that I had seen in — maybe ever in Kern County,” said Perez.

Now the owners are trying to turn over a new leaf. They’ve changed the name from the Tropicana Motel to the Residence Hotel.

As part of the settlement, they owe $547,500. The majority will go to the tenants who were evicted, $300,000. The defendants will also pay $175,000 in penalties and $22,500 in costs, which will include reimbursement of $10,000 in costs that were funded by Perez.

The owners declined to give any kind of formal statement, but did say that their business is now clean.

“It does look cleaner,” said Perez.

The people who live there today say they’re glad the place looks so much better than it used to.

Perez says she is sure there are more places out there with similar problems that need to be taken care of, and she hopes this case sets a precedent.

The DA’s office hopes other business owners will pay attention and clean up their act on their own.

MARYLAND: WORKPLACE POISONED PESTICIDES SPRAYED 2X [CANCER] — AND FAILED TO ERADICATE BED BUGS!

BALTIMORE (AP) — About 150 state employees are getting a paid week off because of a bedbug infestation in the state office complex – Maryland Comptroller’s Office.    Entire fourth floor shut down for remainder of week while DEADLY PESTICIDE CHEMICALS are sprayed

Officials say workers from the comptroller’s office were sent home after officials discovered evidence Tuesday that two previous sprayings of bedbugs had failed to eradicate the insects.

Spokesman Andrew Friedson says the issue was first brought to the attention of the comptroller on Oct. 1.  Friedson says employees were sent home that day and returned the next after an overnight spraying.

After rediscovering bugs this week, workers were once again sent home on paid leave.

The General Services Department, which serves as the landlord for the building, says that the infestation appears to be confined to the comptroller’s office.

Employees could return to work as soon as Monday.

“We acted as quickly as possible,” said Andrew Friedson, a spokesman for Comptroller Peter Franchot (D). “We’re trying as best we can to provide a comfortable work environment for our employees.”

Friedson said the temporary closure of the office will affect 150 employees who work for the comptroller’s compliance and collections program. They were released from work on Wednesday and are expected to return to Monday, after the state Department of General Services, which operates the building, gets rid of the bugs.

Friedson said because of the confidential nature of the employees’ work they can not telecommute.  Instead, they will receive paid leave. The closure of the offices was first reported in The Daily Record.

“They are bringing in dogs that sniff out bed bugs,” Friedson said Wednesday. He said this is the second time the offices will be treated for bedbugs.

Workers reported seeing bedbugs on Oct. 1 and were sent home for the day, Friedson said.

“THIS WILL BE THE 3RD TIME BUILDING WAS TREATED FOR BED BUGS – If I worked in that building I would definitely NOT want to go back to work there on Monday esp. after ALL that has been reported of Terminix and Orkin using poisonous PESTICIDES to get rid of bed bugs [brain damage].”

Bed Bugs Have Heat Sensors – Heat CAN Spread Bed Bugs and Pesticides Linked to CANcer

Bed Bug Outbreak at Retirement Center for Seniors in Spokane – Legal Action Next

By Grace Ditzler | Oct 02 2015  

SPOKANE, Wash. – They’re creepy and crawly and the last thing you’d want to find in your home.  Some residents in a Spokane senior housing complex say their building is infested with bed bugs, and that their property managers aren’t handling the situation correctly.  The residents at Clare View South believe the property managers should be doing more to check and treat for bed bugs, but the property manager explains they are doing what they can.

“After I started having problems four months ago with active bites and welts, I found out it was introduced into the complex about a year ago,” said resident Marty Hicks.

“I started getting bit up,” said resident Toni Mastronarde. “My whole left arm was covered in bites.”

Clare View South property manager Patricia Webster said there has been an increase of bed bugs at the complex.

“To date, we’ve treated seven units for bed bugs here at Clare House,” she explained.

But Webster says they are doing what they can to pro-actively and responsibly address the situation.

“When we first started to receive the complaints, we sent those out to a professional pest control extermination company, and since then, we’ve purchased about $10,000 worth of heat treating equipment,” she said.

Webster said if they find bed bugs in an apartment, Clare View maintenance staff will use the heating equipment to treat the apartment.

“They don’t have official training in exterminating, but they do have training in the heat treat equipment,” she said.

If there is still a problem, property managers will bring in a professional exterminator, but the residents believe the problem won’t go away until Clare View brings in professional exterminators to treat the entire building, not just individual rooms.

“[Maintenance staff doesn’t] look for them in a proper way,” Mastronarde said. “They don’t know what they’re doing, and everybody is inconvenienced and miserable.”

Pointe Pest Control says trying to get rid of these bugs on your own can be very difficult.

“In an apartment complex you have common walls, common plumbing, common electricity,” said Raymond Vanderlouw with Pointe Pest Control. “So if you do a treatment in one apartment there’s a chance you can get them in other apartments.”

These residents hope the bed bugs will move out soon, so they can stop feeling like they have to.

Some of the residents are now considering legal action against Clare View because of the bed bug problem. They also say Clare View has charged residents for the bed bug treatments, but property manager Patricia Webster says to date, only one person has been charged.

Clare View management explained it will have professional exterminators come assess the bed bug situation on Monday, October 5.

Bed Bugs in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities — A Serious Problem

Bed bugs are a growing problem in nursing homes and elderly care – assisted living centers across the Country.

Why Bed Bugs in Nursing Homes are Dangerous

Nursing Home Elderly Neglect InformationWhen a nursing home patient gets bed bugs they are more likely to suffer from a subsequent infection. Infections can rapidly spread at nursing homes if left improperly treated. Bed bug bites can develop into rashes and chaff causing bleeding and swelling, which can become infected. These infections can develop into serious issues if not properly cared for.

Nursing homes are required to properly inspect and treat for bed bugs found at a facility which they own or operate. Since a number of patients can come in and out of their facilities, it is not uncommon for bed bugs to be found on the property. However, some nursing homes are negligent in the care of their patients and fail to properly safeguard against these conditions. When a nursing homes fail to put into place safeguards and safety measures to correct or remedy these issues they will be considered liable for injuries sustained as a result.

Liability for Injuries – Can I sue Nursing Home for Bed Bug Bite Infestations

Who is liable for injuries when bed bugs are contracted at a nursing home? A nursing home will be liable when bed bugs are contracted by a patient. Courts will determine whether they had knowledge and whether they took proper precautions when dealing with the issue. “Many facilities will ignore the problem”, says Farid Yaghoubtil attorney with Downtown L.A. Law Group. “They rely on lack of knowledge as a tool. Since many people may not know that the swelling is a bed bug bite, it is easy to get around the issue. In other cases we have seen facilities flat out deny or lie about having any knowledge only to find out they did.”

In many cases nursing homes know of this issue since patients are regularly checked on by trained staff, particularly at skilled nursing facilities. These issues are reported by nurses to management, who either abruptly discharges the patient or fails to do anything to correct the issue. In such cases the nursing home will be considered liable for the injuries caused by their negligence.

Steps to Take if Your Loved One has Suffered Bed Bug Bites in a Nursing Home or Elderly Assisted Living Center

If you or your loved one were bit by bed bugs in a nursing home you need to take the following steps to secure your case.

1. Take photos of your body and where the bites took place;
2. Do not make any statements to the insurance company representing the nursing home;
3. Document all of your losses;
4. Seek immediate medical attention to prevent the spread of infection;
5. Speak to a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

Downtown L.A. Law Group

nbc

Florida Boy Was Poisoned by Pesticide (Terminix), State Investigators Say

A Florida boy who has been hospitalized since August and suffered brain damage after his home was fumigated was poisoned by pesticides, a state investigation concluded.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a statement Thursday that 10-year-old Peyton McCaughey’s sickness was a “pesticide-related illness and injury.” The boy’s Palm City home was fumigated on Aug. 14.

The report said Sunland Pest Control, which was subcontracted by Terminix, could not provide investigators with working gas meters when asked. The meters ensure that it is safe to reenter the home.

Attorney Bill Williams, who is representing the McCaughey family, told NBC News on Thursday that the family filed a lawsuit claiming that Terminix and Sunland failed to verify that the home was safe before permitting the family to go back.

According to the complaint, Peyton McCaughey “sustained a catastrophic brain injury,” after Terminix and Sunland “failed to properly make certain” the home was safe to enter. The lawsuit also alleges Sunland did not properly ventilate the home after chemicals used to kill the termites were used.

The family was allowed to reenter the house Aug. 16 and fell ill. Peyton had the most severe symptoms, including slurred speech and muscle contractions. He remains at a South Florida rehabilitation facility, Williams said.

A Terminix spokesperson said on Thursday its thoughts and prayers are with the family, however company policy prevents it from commenting on pending litigation. The company said Sunland was its subcontractor. Sunland Pest Control did not return a request for comment.

Aaron Keller, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture, said that the department suspended Sunland Pest Control’s license on Wednesday.

“The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services executed a suspension order against Sunland Pest Control. We will continue to build our administrative case against Sunland Pest Control,” Aaron Keller, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture, said.

McCaughey’s uncle Ed Gribben spoke to NBC affiliate WPTV just before the results of the state investigation were released and said his nephew requires around the clock care.

“It’s hopeful and encouraging that he has made some improvement but he’s nowhere near the kid that he used to be,” Gribben said.

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