$90,000 Bed Bug Settlement in Leonardtown, Maryland.
For a family of five with children, a safe home is a must. Our clients, a young family with three young children, then-ages 16, 9 and 2, thought they had found a new, safe home when they rented a two bedroom Trailer from a well-known landlord in Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. At the time they leased the Trailer they had no idea that the last three tenants who lived there over the past year had left because of a bed bug infestation, and that the last tenant who lived there before them was there for only two weeks before she left. They moved in, and their own bed bug nightmare began.
Eventually, they contacted the experienced attorneys at Whitney, LLP who represent victims in bed bug claims and lawsuits involving apartments, rental properties and hotels. We investigated the facts, filed a lawsuit and obtained a quick settlement based on our clients’ terrible experience and our history of success in the legal community for handling bed bug cases. The information set forth below was developed by Whitney, LLP’s bed bug lawyers, who quickly investigated the facts, contacted all of the important witnesses and conducted negotiations designed to recover a significant amount of money for our clients to compensate them for what they went through.
BED BUG INFESTED TRAILER IN ST. MARY’S COUNTY
Our clients moved into the Trailer in Leonardtown, Maryland on January 1, 2016. Within the first 48 hours of moving into the Trailer, our clients began to notice bed bugs crawling out of the walls of the Trailer. After notifying the Landlord, she sent her son to the Trailer to set off “bug bombs.” The Landlord had her son set off dozens of bug bombs over several months, all to no avail, before our clients realized that the Landlord’s action were futile, at which point they moved out.
A Landlord who does not hire a professional and licensed pest control contractor to treat a bed bug infestation in an apartment they rent to tenants is negligent. Unfortunately, many landlords in Maryland attempt to save money and self-treat using ineffective methods, which only serves to make their tenants’ lives more miserable.
HISTORY OF BED BUG INFESTATION IN ST. MARY’S COUNTY RENTAL PROPERTY
The Landlord knew about the bed bug infestation in the Trailer long before she rented the Trailer to our clients in January of 2016. The Landlord rented the Trailer to a woman and her father from January 2015 through the beginning of April 2015. At the beginning of their tenancy they too noticed an infestation of bed bugs in the Trailer and reported it to the Landlord, who took no action. After they vacated the Trailer, the Landlord immediately rented it to a young couple with a newborn from mid-April 2015 until late October 2015. After they moved in with their 3 month old son, they started seeing bed bugs coming out of the walls and from all areas of the Trailer. After they reported the bed bugs to the Landlord, she said it was their problem. They repeatedly tried to treat the infestation with bug bombs, but that did not work. They broke their lease due to the severity of the infestation and the fact that their infant son was being badly bitten. Upon moving out, they discarded almost all of their property due to it being infested. Before they left, they informed the Landlord that the bug bombs they had been using were ineffective.
Only weeks later, in mid-November 2015, the Landlord rented the Trailer to a middle aged woman. She lasted less than two weeks in the Trailer before she moved out on November 30, 2015. Two days after moving in, the middle aged woman discovered bed bugs crawling in the Trailer. She reported the bed bugs to the Landlord, who said she would take care of it. Wary of the Landlord’s offer, she called Terminix, who performed an inspection of the Trailer. Terminix found the Trailer to be heavily infested with bed bugs, and recommended “tenting” the Trailer so it could be fumigated. Fumigation is usually used for treatment of bed bugs in only the most severe infestations. This recommendation is reflective of a pervasive and very entrenched infestation. However, the Landlord did not hire Terminix to perform fumigation. Instead, the Landlord signed the lease for the infested Trailer with our clients two weeks later on December 13, 2015, and they moved in two weeks later.
FRAUDULENT CONCEALMENT BY FAILING TO DISCLOSE A HISTORY OF BED BUG INFESTATION
The Landlord was aware of the chronic bed bug infestation in the Trailer for at least a year before our clients moved in. She repeatedly saw the disruption that the infestation of bed bugs caused to each set of tenants prior to our clients. She was also aware that using bug bombs to treat the entrenched infestation was ineffective. When our clients complained of bed bugs, she decided to have her son use bug bombs, despite knowing that they were ineffective, instead of hiring a professional.
Prior to the lease being signed for the Trailer, our clients were not informed by the Landlord of the ongoing infestation or the year-long history of infestation in the Trailer that drove three different sets of tenants out. That the Trailer was infested with bed bugs and had a history of infestation are both material facts that should have been disclosed to our clients so that they could make an informed decision about moving into the Trailer. Had our clients been made aware of these material facts, they would never have moved their family into the Trailer and subjected themselves to the inevitable nightmare they encountered.
As the result of the months that our clients lived in the infested Trailer, each client was bitten repeatedly by bed bugs. Photographs taken during their tenancy show numerous ziplock bags of large bed bugs that were captured and bagged, bed bugs crawling on furniture, toys, mattresses and other personal property, and bed bug bites on our clients’ bodies.
Unfortunately, this story of a landlord leasing a unit they know to be infested with bed bugs to unsuspecting tenants is something we deal with everyday, in cases all across Maryland and in other states as well.
DAMAGES AND INJURIES FROM A BED BUG INFESTED APARTMENT
In addition to our clients suffering bed bug bites, they lost nearly all of their personal belongings that had become infested or were at risk of harboring bed bugs. When moving out of the Trailer, they were forced to discard almost all of their personal property and furniture in order to avoid bringing the infestation with them. In total, they discarded approximately $20,000 worth of personal property including furniture and clothing.
In addition to the bed bug bites suffered by our clients the emotional distress they suffered was significant. Sleep deprivation, being constantly worried about being bitten at night, waking up with red, extremely itchy and swollen bed bug bites on their skin, and constantly seeing bed bugs throughout the Trailer on their personal property took an emotional toll.
$90,000 BED BUG SETTLEMENT SHORTLY AFTER THE LAWSUIT WAS FILED
The lawsuit that was filed included claims of negligence based on the St. Mary’s County Code and common law, violation of Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act and Fraudulent Concealment. The facts of the case were egregious and almost unbelievable to the extent that another person would knowingly place a family with children in such a terrible living situation. However, the attorneys of Whitney, LLP have seen numerous cases in their years of experience where landlords will do and say almost anything, including flat-out lie, to a prospective tenant just to lease another apartment and have another tenant paying rent. While it is always terrible when this happens, we have developed investigative skills to discover underlying facts and leverage those facts into legal causes of action that can lead to significant compensation for our clients. Of course, each case is different and past success is no assurance that we will be successful in reaching a favorable result in any future case. In this case, a mediation was conducted and the case was settled shortly thereafter.
Whitney, LLP represents tenants in bed bug cases and claims in apartments throughout Maryland, including Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Charles County and St. Mary’s County. Consultations are always free and we handle bed bug injury cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning that clients never pay any money out of pocket to us, and our attorney’s fees are paid only once we successfully recover compensation for our clients. Contact Us Now using our Quick Contact Form or call 410-583-8000.