Renting your furniture can be a convenient and affordable financial option. Unfortunately, rental products also carry a serious health concern: bed bug infestations. Each time a rental product passes from one temporary owner to the next, the risk of infestation increases. Since bed bugs are tiny and difficult to detect, and because renters cannot be certain of where the rental product has been in the past, it is easy for unknowing consumers to accidentally bring these unwanted guests into their homes.
If you were bitten by bed bugs or had to replace personal property after renting infested products from Rent-A-Center (RAC), you may be able to recover compensation to help with your medical expenses, lost income, and other financial losses arising from the infestation. The bed bug lawyers of Whitney, LLP have years of experience handling complex bed bug litigation, and have helped many people recover the compensation they deserve.
To start talking about your experience renting infested furniture from RAC, call the attorneys of Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 for a free, private legal consultation. We will give you a clear assessment of your case and advise you of your rights and options as an injury victim.
Rent-A-Center Corporate Facts and Statistics
Rent-A-Center (RAC) was founded in Kansas in 1973. Today, the business is headquartered in Texas, with nearly 3,000 locations spread across the U.S. in all 50 states. RAC employs approximately 20,100 people, and reported revenues of $3.1 billion in 2014.
While RAC’s size and location may have changed with time, the company’s purpose remains the same: renting out furniture, appliances, and electronics, including computers and smartphones. Products available for rent through RAC include:
- Video Gaming Systems
Many people mistakenly believe that bed bugs only live in beds and mattresses. This is simply not accurate. Bed bugs are very hardy and adaptable, and can happily survive anywhere in your home or apartment. That includes inside appliances, on drapes, behind wallpaper, and even inside of curtain rods.
Needless to say, all of the products RAC rents out to consumers are supposed to be free of defects and safety hazards. In fact, Rent-A-Center even has a “Worry-Free Guarantee” which ensures that “if an item requires service during the lease term, we’ll repair it quickly at no additional cost.” However, customers who report bed bugs are usually left with an unpleasant choice of signing a Waiver of Claims, or General Release, before Rent-a-Center will agree to have the property treated by a pest control contractor. The consequences of signing the Waiver is that the customer is agreeing to settle all of their potential claims arising from the infestation of rental furniture in exchange for only a pest control company treating the infestation – with no compensation for bodily injury, emotional distress or economic loss.
More importantly, all business organizations have a legal “duty of care” toward their customers and employees. All types of companies, including second-hand furniture companies, must take reasonable measures to prevent any foreseeable injuries or deaths. In the case of Rent-A-Center, this includes performing regular product inspections, and bringing licensed exterminators into RAC locations. If RAC personnel are aware that a product, retail facility, or storage facility is infested by bed bugs, the affected product(s) should not be rented out to consumers.
Consumers Claim RAC Furniture and Products Infested by Bed Bugs
Second-hand furniture and pre-owned products are one of the major sources of bed bugs in the United States, a fact which has been acknowledged by countless universities, government programs, surveys, researchers, news outlets, and pest control professionals. Once bed bugs arrive in somebody’s home or apartment after hitching a ride on a leased appliance or piece of furniture, they will quickly begin to lay eggs and proliferate.
In light of these facts, it is perhaps not surprising that various people have claimed to find bed bugs in or on products rented from RAC during recent years. Consider some of the following examples:
- In December 2014, Oklahoma man Rusty Cross claimed that furniture he rented was infested by bed bugs.
- In November 2013, Ohio man Mike DeLong claimed to have discovered dead bed bugs inside a rented couch.
- In June 2013, Michigan woman Candy Williams claimed that a rented wooden footboard, headboard, dresser were infested.
- In May 2012, Texas woman Leah Angle sued Rent-A-Center after renting infested furniture.
According to the 2011 “Bed Bugs in America” survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), only 16% of respondents inspected their second-hand furniture. While it is always prudent to carefully inspect any item you rent or purchase, consumers should not be held responsible for sickness or personal injury arising from negligent actions taken by Rent-A-Center with regard to pest management.
Even if you don’t know whether you have a case against RAC or other used furniture store, we encourage you to call our law offices for a free evaluation. To set up a private, no-cost consultation with the bed bug attorneys of Whitney, LLP, call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 today.