Ronald Rock has won a jury case against a Venice, Florida hotel where he received extensive bed bug bites during a stay in 2005.
Rock filed suit against Venice H.I., Inc. and MHC Hospitality Operating Company. Venice H.I. owned the Venice Holiday Inn that Rock stayed in when he was attacked until 2006 when the property was sold. MHC Hospitality Company was the management company hired at the time to operate the hotel.
The 6-person jury found the two defendants negligent and awarded Rock money to cover his past medical expenses, lost clothing and missed work time.
Rock’s attorney, Dennis Lopez says the verdict should send a message to the hospitality industry. “This was never an extermination issue, this was a hotel management and housekeeping issue in which the most minimal and reasonable inspection of the bedding would have revealed this infestation and prevented Mr. Rock from being exposed to it.”
Ronald Rock sustained about 60 bed bug bites, according to the video below.
The jury was surely moved by Rock’s description of the anxiety this experience causes to this day; remember: he lived with bed bugs for only one night.
Had this customer brought bed bugs home with him, the costs in terms of personal trauma due to continuing bed bug bites, as well as the expenses of bed bug treatment, would be much higher.
The plaintiff’s lawyer’s words above suggest that the infestation would be obvious to housekeeping staff if they took the time to look. Hotel housekeeping and maintenance staff do need to be trained to recognize and look for the signs of bed bugs.
However, given that you can’t be sure hotels are checking carefully, we also recommend you take it into your own hands and search every hotel room you spend time in. (This FAQ about how to avoid bed bugs when you travel should help.)