Why Bed Bug Lawsuits Are a Good Thing

Bed bugs have been a common pest for much of human history. The nighttime ritual of informing children to “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a testament to the long standing fear of bed bug bites. With the application of the advancement made in the chemical industry in the 1940’s and 50’s, pest and vector control agencies where able to stamp out almost all bed bug infestations across the country. For a period of four decades individuals across the country could sleep tight knowing full well that no bed bugs would be lurking in the night waiting for a chance bite.

Bed Bugs Strike Back: But the bed bug story did not stop there. Lying in wait, a small contingent of bed bugs clung to life. Their ability to stay alive under the onslaught of exterminators was predicated on a genetic mutation making them resistant to any chemical agents. The drug resistant bedbugs began to procreate and passed down their beneficial mutation to their offspring. By the end of the 20th century bed bugs had made a comeback and established a foothold in hotel room and apartment buildings of major east coast cities. Bedbugs embarked on a continental march beginning in the northeast towards and into the west infesting homes, hotels, apartments, nursing home, libraries, and mattress stores along the way.

Implicit in the bed bug comeback was the failure to hotel operators and apartment complex owners to spend the capital necessary to properly inspect for exterminate threats.

War Against Bed Bugs Fought By Lawyers Across the County: Civil lawsuits where financial compensation is awarded for harm suffered due the negligent or intentional acts of others serves not only to provide restitution for the injured party but, more importantly, shifts the cost/benefit economic dynamic of hotel and apartment owners towards providing for an increased level of sanitation and infestation control in their properties.

Example of the Cost/Benefit Dynamic At Work:

Similar to termites, getting rid of bed bug infestations require the extermination of the entire building. Such extermination can take several weeks and necessitate the closing of the entire hotel resulting in the loss of significant revenue for the establishment.

In response to these extremely high costs, hotels and other establishments make the economic decision to fore-go extermination of the entire hotel instead opting for minimal cleanup while keeping the doors of their hotel open. A key determinative factor in their cost/benefit analysis is the belief that the vast majority hotel room guests who have been bitten with bed bug will fail to peruse a legal claim against them and settle for only nominal or no compensation. In many instances hotel managers will offer guest who have been bitten with free night stays or free breakfasts in return for injuries suffered by bed bugs.

Lawyers Come to the Rescue: An increase in litigation against hotels and apartments will tip the cost/benefit analysis of their owners in favor of providing for more protection against bed bugs. Liable parties will no longer fend off liability by providing for token reimbursements for bed bug bites. For example:

A full extermination including lost revenue due the temporary closure of the hotel could cost upwards of $100,000 depending on the hotel – but will prevent an estimated 20 bed bug bite incidents in one year, if not more. No extermination will save $100,000 but will result in 20 bed bug bite incident each year. If none of the 20 are able to receive legal representation and are only able to receive a nominal compensation with an average of $500 then the calculation employed by the hotel management would be:

  1. 20 X $500 = $10,000 — Which is vastly less than the Cost of Extermination $100,000. Resulting in a net benefit of $95,000 for not properly exterminating the hotel.

If all 20 victims file a lawsuits and the average settlement amount for each bed bug incident is $10,000 then the expected revenue loss from the failure to exterminate the bed bug problem is:

  1. 20 X $10,000 = $200,000 minus the cost of extermination $100,000 = $100,000 benefit for properly exterminating the hotel.

The increase in litigation against hotels and apartment will result in a net increase in a cleaner, more sanitized, and safer living environment for hotel guest and tenants. It is this economic reality that has forced many property owners on the east coast, where bed bug infestations first began, to reconsider how they deal with these infestations. Hopefully, we will continue to see a rise in this trend throughout the country. This change is incredibly important, not only for those affected but for the health and safety of future visitors and those that travel for business.

Comments

  1. Avatar laxmi says:

    Need your help….we had bed bug problem in our previous apartment and had completed all the sessions of treatment from the exterminator. Couple of weeks back we moved to a new place. As a precaution we disposed all our furniture’s bedding before moving into the new house. Our clothes too were washed and put in zip lock covers which I haven’t still got into the house all in our storage except for few basic ones. Except for two light stands we haven’t got anything from our previous house. But for our bad luck today I found one bed bug which was in its 1st nymph stage in our comforter. Immediately I put all our comforters, pillow covers for hot water washing and dryer too. Pillows I have kept in sunlight. Checked the entire bed did not find any black spots or blood spots. Neither of us have got any bites. Today we are planning to get a bed bug protector cover for our bedding and pillows. I vaccum the house every day. I am totally panicked now. Just very very scared if it spreads more. Already we spent a lot of money in our previous house. Please help me by giving suitable solution. It would be of great help.
    Regards

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Laxmi! My suggestion is that you just keep an eye on the situation on a daily basis. You have taken the correct precautions and if you spot another bed bug, message me and we can sort something out.

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