LegalNewsline.com 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.