new Ohio Hilton bed bug lawsuit

by nobugsonme on August 1, 2007 · 25 comments

in bed bug lawsuits, bed bugs, bed bugs in hotels, legal aspects of bed bugs reports on a new bed bug case proceeding in New York’s Southern District.

A woman spent two nights in a Hilton in Ohio, got 150 bed bug bites, and is proceeding with a $5 million dollar lawsuit charging physical scarring, emotional distress, and embarrassment.

The plaintiff, Sai Kim, alleges that she checked into Room 336 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Columbus, Ohio on March 26 during a business trip. After a two-night stay in the room, Kim allegedly discovered more than 150 bed-bug bites on her hands, feet, face, fingers, toes, legs, neck, back, chest, stomach and genitals.

“As a direct result of exposure to bed bugs,” the complaint alleges, the plaintiff “was left physically scarred and emotionally damaged and that these consequences were a direct result of the defendant’s negligence.”

The complaint alleges that the Hilton Corporation breached its duty to provide reasonably safe accommodations, which in turn led to “embarrassing injury and tremendous emotional distress.”

On the one hand, my sympathies go out to anyone who pays for a hotel room and suffers what must be the presence of a very large infestation (assuming somewhere between 50 and 150 bed bugs bit her in the space of two nights).

On the other hand, to people who suffer months of discomfort from bed bugs, receive many more bites, and suffer a much more prolonged disruption to home, health, and sanity, who are far more damaged and yet not in the position to sue a landlord in this way, it seems unfair that someone in this position would be able to seek such a large payout.

So what did Hilton say?

In its answer to the complaint, Hilton denied negligence and asserted contributory negligence and assumption of risk on the plaintiff’s part. The corporation’s answer also cast blame on the owner/operator of the hotel in question.

I’m interested in the assertion of the plaintiff’s “contributory negligence.” Her “assumption of risk” (as in, presumably, “sleep here at your own risk?) is more apparent. However, like the swimming pool with no lifeguard attendant, perhaps hotels need to hang up a sign stating that we’re risking bed bugs when we sleep there.

1 Bugalina August 1, 2007 at 9:05 pm

As much as I deplore predatory litigation I somehow feel that this woman is justified. If I woke up from a hotel with that many bites on me I would be completely freaked out. I think that these kinds of lawsuits will force the accomodations industry to demand something more effective and reliable to kill bed bugs. From the very beginning I have said that big business must feel the pain in their wallet. The only way the regular folks can get attention is when big business hurts….Bed bugs are going to be a scourge on the economy…When Australia admitted to their bed bug epidemic they came forth with the fact that their accomodations industry lost billions of dollars…

2 parakeets August 2, 2007 at 8:58 am

I think the CEO of Hilton Hotels should go and sleep in Room 336–to show everyone he is willing to take on the same “assumption of risk” that he asked his hotel guests to bear.

Would a major hotel chain ever have a policy that their own executive officers stay overnight, say once a month, in their hotels (the particular hotel location and room chosen by random number generator)? No, it won’t happen because hotel executives know of the bedbug problem, no matter what they say in lawsuits. They don’t tell their customers about bedbugs, so how could there be an “assumption of risk” if non one is told.

How many people are going to avoid staying in hotels? It’s not just us here. I know many people who never had bedbugs who are now afraid to stay in hotels because of bedbugs. Some of them futily try to avoid a problem of bedbugs by staying in up-scale hotel chains. But if Hiltons have bedbugs, all hotels have bedbugs.

3 Bugalina August 2, 2007 at 10:49 am

So true Parakeets….What a line of BS…”assumption of risk”….If they want to play hardball like this, then my line of defense would be …OK..But from now on, whenever anyone checks into your Hilton Hotels you must have them sign an “assumption of risk disclaimer”. This disclaimer would clearly list the potential risks of the room you are renting. Top on the list would be NUMBER ONE…..There is a decent percentage of risk that the room you are renting for ( # of days) could potentially be infested with an insect called Climex Lecaris, commonly known as BED BUGS. These bugs are associated with the habits of a vampire, they appear at night while you are sleeping and will feed on your blood. The Hotel is waiving all responsibility for the health and financial risks associated with BED BUGS. SLEEP AT YOUR OWN RISK……
In very little almost impossible to read printing on the bottom of the disclaimer they will be legally bound to describe the bites, the potentials for anaphylatic shock/asthma attacks . They will have to say that the mean average cost for treating a 3 bedroom home is around $3000.00 ( depending on where you live ) and that loss of bedding and furniture is highly probable…
SO the DesK Clerk will now be legally required to have every guest sign an “assumption of risk disclaimer”, … If this is going to be the Hotels defense then they had better know what the consequences of it will be……

4 James Buggles August 2, 2007 at 11:58 am

The lawsuit is justified. And the hotel has deep pockets so the lawsuit is also feasible. Waivers do not always stand up in court. I doubt many courts would be sympathetic to a hotel that claims it’s up to guests to look for signs of bedbugs.

5 James Buggles August 2, 2007 at 12:04 pm

NB, I’m sure what relevance the suffering of others has on this case. Litigation is not a zero sum game. If some guy gets struck by lightening while driving his car, why should that prevent someone else from filing a lawsuit when he is rear ended at a stoplight? Like it or not, without lawsuits, there would be many dangerous products and services in the marketplace.

6 Bugalina August 2, 2007 at 2:48 pm

Buggles Its not a perfect world. Lawsuits , if added up, have probably done more good than harm. There should be some stopgap for frivolous lawsuits like the guy who sued the dry cleaner for 50 million for loss of pants. Has anyone looked at the photos of the woman who sued the CONCORD Hotel, up in the Catskills…She was covered with bites. It was horrifying. Buggles I know disclaimers don’t always hold up in court but I am trying to point out how ludicrious it is to say that the Hotel’s liability stops at “assumption of risk”…it is ridiculous to “assume” this. If I woke up looking like that woman from the Concord or with bites all over me, I would sue too. Hotels absolutely cannot expect their guests to assume that there is a possibility of being mauled by bed bugs or bringing them home. Its happening now because the vast majority of people are still unawares of this fast growing epidemic, being kept in the dark deliberately by big business. But if this epidemic continues too grow as per the foretelling of professionals like Doggett “current outbreaks are part of a global epidemic, with the number of bed bugs worldwide doubling each year”, then Hotels are going to have to fund research and do what they must to insure their guests a bed bug free room. Until then, as far as I am concerned, the onus is on them.

7 nobugsonme August 2, 2007 at 7:36 pm


I didn’t say this lawsuit was affected in any way by the fact that tenants suffer far more with a home infestation and can’t sue in this way. I was just remarking on the disjunct there.


I believe you mean the Catskills case regarding the Chicago woman, Leslie Fox, who stayed at the Nevele Hotel–not the Condorde– and was bit 500 times?

But there’s a twist to this case. Other papers reported that Fox returned to the same hotel
North Country Gazette said:

” But hotel attorney Joe O’Connor says that the couple returned later that summer. Fox says it was because her husband was under contract to give a lecture and she wanted to attend. O’Connor says the second stay negates her claim because it shows that she was willing to stay in the same section of the hotel two weeks later.”

I realize this may not legally affect the suit (I am not a lawyer), but it does make one suspicious of the validity of the claim. If you were bitten 500 times over six nights, would you return and stay in the same part of the hotel two weeks later?!?!? I can tell you there are other hotels in the Ellenville, NY region, where she could have stayed. And I am sure that they would have been allowed to drop the booking by the hotel, considering their experience.

8 Bugalina August 2, 2007 at 10:03 pm

Nobugs…That is the case I am referring to…I saw the photos of her body so i know she couldn’t have made that up. Did you see the photos?? I believe they showed them on TV as well as online. She was mauled…however I didn’t know that she returned to the hotel. But there could be some justification of this. When this happened, a few years ago, the habits of bed bugs were not really known to the average person. She could have been ignorant to the fact that bed bugs travel ..she might have truly believed that only that one room had a problem….To the uninformed person, that seems like a reasonable assumption. Now we all know better. Prior to my bed bug education I would have been as unenlightened as most, like my friend who said to me ” why don’t you just throw your bed away”….So maybe this woman thought that only that room posed a danger and that after it was “cleaned” that was the end of the problem…little did she know….that would be my defense….I do think the photos of her bites were very serious…I don’t think that because she returned it negated her case….her lack of knowledge about bed bugs could account for her naivete.

9 nobugsonme August 3, 2007 at 10:42 am


She could not have made up that she had had bed bug bites. I suppose it raises the question of whether she got them somewhere else, and then went to the hotel and claimed it happened there. I am not saying that happened, but I think it was suspicious.

I don’t personally buy her assuming it was just the one room. Of course just one hotel room can be infested, but I think most people would not be willing to risk it, even knowing nothing about bed bugs.

Let me put it this way: this question is for anyone who was bitten in a hotel: would you go back to the hotel, to stay in another room, without assurance the place had been tested or treated?

10 Bugalina August 4, 2007 at 6:07 am

I am not at all suspicious of her. I don’t think she would moved forward with a lawsuit unless there were signs of bed bugs all over that room, once it was examined. I would imagine this was documented in her lawsuit. To get that many bites, the mattress and room had to have been very infested. Of course she wouldn’t have known this, unless she was looking for it. We are all well aware of how well bed bugs can hide. The cleaning staff probably ignored all the signs. Those large Catkills Hotels have been neglected over the years, so it didn’t suprise me that a room there could get so infested. I hope this hotel paid a large price for their negligence.

11 David Belvin April 21, 2008 at 9:14 am

I totally sympathise with this person.
I recently stayed at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans and got multiple bits on both lower legs.
Reported to hotel and they documented,photo and offered me gifts from the Gift Shop.
Hilton subsequently turned the claim over to their risk management group,SRS, who immediately denied any responsibility.
Now I understand why, they fear another lawsuit.
Hilton will not share inspection reports or treatment of room, but at adiment their have no responsibility.
After reading these posting I will now pursue furhter options.

12 fightorflight April 23, 2008 at 2:36 am

Going back to the beginning, I think I basically agree with Bugalina and have said this before. I welcome these lawsuits because I am hoping they will motivate the hospitality industry to throw more money into R&D for finding easier, more effective and cheaper bedbug treatments.

13 bryana g May 4, 2008 at 7:27 pm

the cases get more and more outrageous as they go. im doing a repot on bed bugs and i now have a new respectfor the phrase “dont let the bed bugs bite”

14 Berdjum August 25, 2008 at 2:24 pm

We are staying in Hilton Glendale, California, and my two sons and my wife have been seriously bitten by bed bugs. Even, my 2 sons prefered to sleep out of the hotel, in their grand parents’s old appartment.
In a way, as a french citizen, I may understand that Hilton does not pay several millions of dollars for some (even 150) bits by bed bugs.
But, I do not understand that they offer the nigth free or a compensation.
Not too high, not too low, there is a good medium level in life and obviously Hilton hotels would be more clever in their commercial politic of sale. In Glendale, Hilton is a monopolistic position. This will be not true somewhere else, and I shall not stay anymore in their rooms.

15 Berdjum August 25, 2008 at 2:25 pm

But, I do not understand that they offer the nigth free or a compensation =
I do not understand that they DO NOT offer …
sorry for my bad english !

16 Sharks September 2, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I have read all of the posts….I stayed in Nebraska (Super 8) only for a 4 hour layover, and got a dozen bites on my legs. (Could you imagine if i stayed all night)? I have contacted the hotel and they will look into it….does anyone know if I should contact a lawyer? Any feedback would be great!!!

17 Sharks September 2, 2008 at 5:48 pm

The hotel was Super eight motel

18 nobugsonme September 3, 2008 at 12:49 am

We’re not lawyers.
If you want to read about bed bug lawsuits which have been attempted (which may help you decide whether to speak to a lawyer) check out this page.

19 Sharks September 5, 2008 at 12:41 am

Thanks for the info NOBUGSONME!!! I will check it out.
Thanks again.

20 Tim October 16, 2008 at 8:38 am

Can anyone refer me to an atty who will represent me in a lawsuit concerning my bedbug bites?Please do !!!

21 nobugsonme October 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Tim, I can’t do that.

But I suggest reading the case articles on this page. Find one of the cases in your vicinity and start by contacting the lawyer named.

22 Johnathan January 30, 2009 at 8:57 pm

After reading the progression of posts and responses above, it really saddens me that this is the thought process of the common person these days – That is, SUE! SUE! SUE!

The woman who suffered in the article above was certainly appears to be the victim of a poorly maintained room, and the Hilton Corporation probably does owe her some kind of appropriate compensation. However, as someone who has actually done research on the subject, you should all know that most hotels are nearly helpless to address this growing problem. The outlawing of DDT (the only effective pesticide for bed bugs) and increasing international travel are at the route of this epidemic. Even the cleanest and most well-maintained room can be affected, because these bugs only travel from place to place ON people – in their luggage or clothing. In other words, they are brought in by other customers from other locations. Why is that the Hilton’s fault? Regular visual inspections are helpful, but not fool-proof. Bed bugs can hide in the tiniest of crevices and even in electrical sockets. This makes it virtually IMPOSSIBLE for a hotel to prevent an occasional biting incident.

Regarding the “assumption of risk” argument, ANY business is allowed to post signs limiting their liability for nearly anything. As long as the signs are posted clearly, the customer IS assuming the risk of injury when they decide to transact business under these reservations of rights. It may not completely save the Hilton Corp. in this case, but it is a strong argument in their favor. Sometimes, $#!+ happens. If the hotel has an otherwise effective procedure for cleaning and maintaining their rooms sufficient to satisfy a Negligence analysis, this lawsuit isn’t the no-brainer everyone here seems to think it is.

If you have concerns about potential bed bugs in your room, inspect the head boards and box springs yourself before you settle into your space. Don’t wait to be bitten and then sue for millions of dollars based on the assumption that all hotels have “deep pockets.” Believe it or not, hotels are run by human beings just like you.

23 nobugsonme January 31, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Hi Johnathan,

Bedbugger recommends people carefully search a hotel room before settling in. Suggestions for how to do it can be found in our travel FAQs.

Also, I agree with you that hotels are not necessarily the bad guy. I have mixed feelings about many bed bug lawsuits.

On the other hand there are some steps hoteliers should be taking to be proactive about bed bugs, and they are not all taking them.

24 Stan October 20, 2009 at 1:05 pm

I was a victim of a bed bug incident in Columbus just 2 weeks ago. I had 50+ bites BUT they didnt appear till 8 days after the stay (luckily I found them in the bed on the 7th day and knew before I went home). She said she knew about it within 2 days? I find some problems in the story above. The hotel gladly replaced clothing and paid for extermination of my home for prevention. 5 Million? Welcome to the greatest country on earth when you can sue instead of work like the rest of us… Sad!

25 sandra October 22, 2009 at 6:35 am

I agree crap happens I’m old and mature enough to know that. It is how I was treated, threatened, cursed, almost slapped, lied to, refused me treatment, and they are still at it. I got a call last night that some fool lady up there who thinks she is cool.. said.. to the other tenants that she saw me sneaking in the apt. building and she stop me and made me leave, number 2 I paid two people alot of money to kick my landladies butt then they got the money and decided not to do it.. I about laff my butt off at this crap. Well I called the lady and told her I didn’t understand why she was being the way she was and had thought through out all the years we were some what friends and I always liked her. I preceeded to say ” oh by the way, if I wanted to come up there, your butt (but I didn’t say butt I used the other word) wouldn’t stop me and then I said your a liar” As for the number 2 I am not even going to address that it is stupied and if I wanted to kick butt I would do it myself, cause I can !

It is these kinds of things that makes me want to sue, at first I told the company I hate this so bad for you, and I know crap happens lets just take care of the situation.. well then it just kept on getting worse and worse. I had to sleep in my car for 4 nights, I had to finally buy a air mattress and sleep on the floor with chemicals, it wasn’t their feet that peeled from the same chemicals, and it wasn’t them who got the raw treatment the land lady helping others up there with new mattress and air bed new blankets and I got not one darn bit of help. See I have had problems with this landlady before, I have all documentations on what all she has done to me. I think she thinks I am smarter than she is or some off the wall thinking, for I don’t really know why she treats me differently. I had to walk on egg shells when I lived up there knowing she would turn something into nothing, I had reported things that people had done to me, like sexual harrassment and threats from other people had to end up taking two people to court and was awarded restraining orders on them for 2 years. When I had reported to the manager for over a year the mistreatment she didn’t do anything so I had to take matters into my own hand.

I am different than most of the tenants there, I had never in my life had to live this way, but since my life had taken a different turn I had to have a place to live and I promise you I had no idea people act like they do. I would always just be me and seeing the less educated, the less everything I always tried to help them and I have many many times. new people would move in and I would gather things I didn’t use or need to assist them in whatever they might need, I have cooked for them, gave food, sit with them sick, gave tons of clothes away and checked on the elderly often. It’s just ingorance I guess.

So see it isn’t just about me wanting to sue, it is about not treating people this way and getting by with it. That is why there are laws to protect mistreatment of this kind and I am trying to find someone who will take this case. I truely do beleive in my heart I have a very strong case. I had my cousin to say ” well you just need to go on with your life and do the best you can and forget about all that happen.” I said I am trying and I hope one day all this will go away, but I will tell you this cuz, Keep in mind he has a small business connected to this apt. building. The bugs are near you so go do all that I have instructed you to do, and if you get them and lose everything in your business and then carry them home and lose there too, and all the expenses, lose and trouble and no help,, see if you can walk away then? He didn’t respond !! lol


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