$300,000 Ocean City, MD Bed Bug Lawsuit Settlement
Bed bugs in Ocean City, MD are the last thing that people want to encounter while on vacation. However, that is exactly what happens when bed bug infestations are not properly addressed by the landlords that provide rental housing to visitors. With millions of visitors every year, Ocean City has a large number of hotels and rentals that cater to tourists and families who choose Ocean City for their annual vacation. However, every year, the bed bug lawyers at Whitney, LLP receive phone calls from Ocean City tourists who have experienced bed bugs. Sometimes bed bugs were simply found in a hotel room, and other times, they were badly bitten. Encountering bed bugs ruins a vacation, especially during a busy season, as there may be no other available places to stay, or those that are are very expensive due to the busy season.
Whitney, LLP’s bed bug attorneys recently settled an Ocean City, Maryland bed bug lawsuit for $300,000. Read below for a brief description of the case.
Bed Bugs on Vacation in Ocean City, MD
While most families have a great time in Ocean City, that was not meant to be for our clients, who encountered a nightmare. After traveling from their home to stay in Ocean City for their annual vacation, our clients checked in to their room. Over the first few nights, they noticed a few itchy, red bites that they thought may have been caused by sand fleas, mosquitos or some other harmless insect. However, after several days, one of our clients woke up covered in over one hundred itchy, red bites. Her husband then searched the room, and found multiple bed bugs. Wisely, he took photographs and video of the bed bugs he found. By doing so, he preserved the evidence that would allow him to make a strong legal argument. Our clients then cut short their vacation and left due to the miserable situation and being unable to enjoy Ocean City. Over the next week, dozens more bites developed on both clients, who took photographs to document their terrible experience.
They contacted their trusted friend, who was also an attorney. He did not handle bed bug cases, and called Whitney, LLP. Whitney, LLP accepted the case, and began to work on behalf of our clients. After obtaining all of the medical records, including dermatological records and mental health counseling records, a demand was made to the insurance company. Despite the severity of the bites, which made it obvious that the infestation had been present for a long period of time before our clients were placed in the room, the adjuster offer one client only $12,000, and the other on $7,000. While those numbers are not small, when considered in connection with the injuries suffered, they were insufficient.
$300,000 Settlement after Ocean City, MD Bed Bug Lawsuit Filed
We then filed a lawsuit against all of the responsible parties. As part of the litigation process, we discovered the identifies of the other guests who stayed in the same room within the two months prior to our clients. Sure enough, after calling them and sending them letters, we discovered that not only had several other families experienced bites and rashes, but one of the prior guests actually complained of bed bugs to the same employees who placed our clients in the same room. These prior guests showed the employees a bed bug they had caught and the bites they had sustained. Astonishingly, the employees did not tell the guests to vacate the room, or hire a professional company to treat the infestation. Instead, after these guests checked out, they placed two more families in the same room before putting our clients in there.
Once this information was discovered, it became evident that our clients had been placed in a situation where it was certain they were going to be bitten by bed bugs. With this information, and other information that came out during litigation, we scheduled a mediation and were able to resolve the case for $300,000. The large settlement was the result of having clients who preserved evidence, their attorney friend hiring Whitney, LLP based on our experience in bed bug cases, and using the litigation process to uncover and investigate information about the prior guests and history of infestation in the unit.
Ocean City, MD Bed Bug Laws for Hotels and Vacation Rentals
Failing to take action to have an infested room treated, and then placing additional families, with children, in an infested room is not only heartless, but also against the law in Ocean City, Maryland.
Ocean City requires all property managers and landlords to make sure there are no infestations in a unit before renting it. To do so, landlords have property managers have a responsibility to make sure the unit is free of infestation before renting it. When they do not comply with this requirement, they are negligent, and any injured party may seek compensation against them for injuries suffered.
Section 10-141 of Ocean City, Maryland’s Code adopted the 2015 International Property Maintenance Code, with modifications listed. The Code is available here.
The 2015 International Property Maintenance Code states, in relevant part, as follows:
SECTION 309 PEST ELIMINATION
309.1 Infestation. Structures shall be kept free from insect and rodent infestation. Structures in which insects or rodents are found shall be promptly exterminated by approved processes that will not be injurious to human health. After pest elimination, proper precautions shall be taken to prevent reinfestation.
309.2 Owner. The owner of any structure shall be responsible for pest elimination within the structure prior to renting or leasing the structure.
This means that no hotel, apartment building, or other vacation rental property may rent a unit that is known to be infested with bed bugs or any other insect.
Lawyer for Ocean City, MD Bed Bug Claims
If you or your family have been bitten by bed bugs in Ocean City, Maryland while on vacation, Whitney, LLP’s bed bug attorneys can help. We have recovered over $11 million for our clients in bed bug cases. Consultations are always free, and there are no out of pocket fees or expenses. Contact Us Online, or call us at 410-583-8000.