Man sues Casper Marriott, alleging he developed serious infection from bedbug bites

Doctors confirmed that he had MRSA, a form of a staph infection that is dangerous because it is resistant to some antibiotics, as well as other issues related to the alleged bites.

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by Seth Klamann | July 8, 2019

A Georgia man has filed a federal lawsuit against the owners of the Courtyard Marriott hotel in east Casper, alleging that he was bitten by bedbugs during a stay there in 2012 and later developed a serious infection to his legs.

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In this Wednesday, March 30, 2011 file photo, a bed bug is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington.  

The suit was filed in federal court last month by Frank Pascarelli, who works for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he “is acutely aware of diseases and infections,” according to the lawsuit. He filed the suit against Marriott, various South Dakota-based management companies that are linked to the Casper location, and James Koehler, who works for the management companies that bear his last name.

A Marriott spokeswoman directed comment to Koehler and the South Dakota companies. A message left for Koehler’s assistant was not returned Monday. An email to his company, the Koehler Organization, bounced back as undeliverable, and a third message sent via a form on the business’s website was not returned.

In the lawsuit, Pascarelli alleges that he was staying at the Courtyard Marriott in April 2012 when he woke up to discover “an enormous amount of painful, itchy, burning bites” on his buttocks and right leg. He had taken a shower the night before and had not noticed any such marks, the suit alleges.

Pascarelli eventually sought treatment at an urgent care clinic in Cheyenne, where he was working with a U.S. marshal. According to the lawsuit, he had “approximately 20” “nodules” on his upper legs and buttocks.

He went back to the clinic the next day because the marks were developing into pustules, indicating infection. The bites then grew into lesions, according to the lawsuit, and caused even more pain, while Pascarelli developed a fever.

Back in Atlanta, where the CDC is based, he was admitted to the hospital. Doctors confirmed that he had MRSA, a form of a staph infection that is dangerous because it is resistant to some antibiotics, as well as other issues related to the alleged bites.

The doctor said that the MRSA was “the result of the bed bug attack at (the) hotel during the early morning of April 9, 2012,” the suit alleges.

Pascarelli was a frequent patient of the hospital throughout April and underwent three surgeries to treat the infections. He incurred about $100,000 in debt, the suit alleges. He lost wages from his job at the CDC, the complaint continues, and is at risk of being forced to retire from the Air Force Reserve.

According to the lawsuit, he will need treatment for the MRSA for the rest of his life.

The suit does not list a specific dollar amount that it seeks, though it alleges Pascarelli could lose up to $500,000 in wages as a result of the infections.

“Defendants knew, and/or should have known, that the bed in (Pascarelli’s) hotel room at the (hotel) was infected with bed bugs,” the suit alleges, adding that the hotel and its owners “failed to take reasonable precautions, failed to implement reasonable safety inspections and/or failed to follow their own safety inspections to ensure that the (hotel) was free from insects and pests,” among other allege failures.

In a statement to the Star-Tribune, Pascarelli’s attorney, Jason Ochs, said that “bed buds have been known to be a major health issue in the hospitality industry for over a decade” and that the industry “has a duty to preemptively act in regards to this foreseeable problem in order to protect paying guests.”

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.