Trainer, who lives on the upper West Side, said she was staying at the Hilton Suites in Phoenix for a November performance when she woke up at 3:30 a.m. and found “a couple of bugs on my body.”
“I leaped out of bed and pulled back the sheet. They were everywhere! It was like a sci-fi movie,” she said.
Trainer said she immediately went to her laptop, typed “bedbugs” into Google, saw a picture of one and followed the advice to put a few in a Ziploc bag. The hotel manager offered to write off her room fee for that night, she said.
When the bites started to show, Trainer said she found she had 150 welts on her arms, legs and eyelids.
“She looks like a piece of wood that has been attacked by termites,” said her lawyer Kenneth Glassman.
Trainer is suing the Hilton hotel chain in Manhattan Supreme Court for $6 million.
She claimed the experience made sleep difficult and she looked terrible – but said she went on with her scheduled performances with the opera and Phoenix Symphony because otherwise, fellow singers on the program wouldn’t get paid.
Trainer might need laser treatments to help with scarring, her lawyer said.
A Hilton spokeswoman did not return a call for comment.
She got 150 welts in one night: that’s a serious infestation. Whenever I read these stories about hotel customers getting so many bites so quickly, I have to wonder if this is true, if other customers did not mention a problem before that. And if they did, why was the room offered?
A few points:
1/ This is not a cheap hotel.
2/ This is a person who probably does not need the publicity of a lawsuit. (Nor did SNL’s Maya Rudolph.)
3/ She is from NYC and encountered bed bugs in Phoenix. I highlight this because I am a bit tired of reading about people who don’t want to come to NYC because of the bed bugs. It can happen anywhere, and yes, those of us from NYC can be free of bed bugs here and meet them elsewhere. It is not a New York problem. San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Halifax, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Miami, Chicago, Phoenix and Lexington, KY have all been in the news lately as cities seeing a lot of bed bug activity. And hotels facing lawsuits have been anywhere from tourist destinations like Anaheim, California to sleepy places like Alton, Illinois.
4/ She is suing for $6 million based on one night of misery, and the bites, which of course lingered. But it really puts into perspective the misery suffered by so many of us at home, for much longer. Some of us have landlords who are culpable (for example, renting out apartments they know are infested, or withholding information about infested neighboring units.) I watch with interest to see how more lawsuits by renters might appear.
This comes hot on the heels of my posting Mike’s queries about avoiding bed bugs while traveling, and reducing the anxiety around them. I still think reinfestation is not likely to happen to any of us (sure, it’s a lot more likely than lightning striking once or twice, but not likely to keep hitting the same people nonetheless). That’s not to say I don’t worry when I travel. Once burned, and all that. I see the irony of the timing of this story right after my last post. And I realize that every day bed bugs multiply, making it more likely that we’ll get them, and perhaps even get them more than once.
Update: According to ABC news, she was actually in the hotel room for 6 days. (My mind was reeling at the thought of 150 bites in one night.) She was suffering from the effects before the 6th day, but did not know the cause of the itchy welts; it was on the last day that she found “brutally conclusive proof” (bed bugs themselves, apparently).