Bed bug lawsuit: MD woman sues landlord awarded $800K

by nobugsonme on June 1, 2013 · 9 comments

in bed bug lawsuits, bed bugs

Faika Shabaan, an Annapolis, Maryland woman who lived with bed bugs in a rental unit for more than eight months, has been awarded $800,000 in compensatory damages for loss and suffering.

According to NBC News, this bed bug lawsuit argued that the landlord in this case knew about bed bugs in the unit when the lease was signed, but did not disclose the problem (the subject of an open housing code violation) to the tenant.

The Capital Gazette notes that Shabaan first suffered from what she later discovered to be bed bug bites from when she moved in in October through April, when someone finally suggested the skin lesions might be from bed bugs.

That led Shabaan to ask around in the building, according to The Capital Gazette:

Shaaban worried about her neighbors — a woman and baby who lived in the second apartment in the converted home.

The woman told Shaaban she’d reported the bedbug problem to Barrett for weeks and nothing had been done.

Shaaban next spoke to the superintendent on the site. The man, who also lived in the home, said he knew about the infestation, but was afraid he’d lose his job if he told the tenants. He said he got bitten every night, too.

Shaaban contacted city employees to complain. Records show Barrett was found in violation and ordered to hire a licensed, professional pest control contractor to eradicate pest in units A and B.

“He defies the order of the city,” Whitney said. “He decides to pick up some propane heaters and do it (himself), not knowing what he’s doing.”

City records confirm Barrett’s failed attempt.

Heat treatment is not a do it yourself project.

But the horror does not end there!

According to The Capital Gazette, in apparent retaliation for her reports to the city, the landlord then shut off Shabaan’s hot water and eventually her entire water supply, and finally evicted her while she was out — so that the tenant arrived home to find the remnants of her belongings on the curb– that is, the stuff which hasn’t already been stolen.


It’s noteworthy that the amount awarded was twice what the plaintiff asked for.  And to put it in perspective, as The Baltimore Sun notes, it’s more than twice the $382,000 that the brother and sister plaintiffs received in the Mathias v. Accor judgment in 2002.  (In that famous case, a Chicago Motel 6 rented a unit it knew to be infested.)

As Shabaan’s lawyer Daniel Whitney told the Capital Gazette, “The jury was asked to send a message… I think they have.”

Articles about landlords being held responsible for bed bug treatment usually elicit a certain resistance among the commenters, so let me be clear: we are not anti-landlord.  Landlords and tenants should both have rights in a bed bug situation.

However, there is no way on earth that a landlord should be allowed to rent a unit which is known to have a bed bug problem which hasn’t been eliminated.  Landlords should not get away with not disclosing such a situation to a prospective tenant.

And if the law requires landlords to address bed bugs, they should not be allowed to ignore this.  We hear about these two situations more often than you’d think, and it really is despicable.

You can read more about bed bug lawsuits (and how to find a lawyer) in this FAQ.

1 AshamedandScratching June 1, 2013 at 2:47 am

My landlord rented my place, even knowing there wa no way to know that it was resolved.

2 Paul J. Bello June 1, 2013 at 7:09 am

Turning the hot water off for days, cutting all water off after that, placing her belongings on the curb for looters to steal; all in addition to renting her an apartment he knew was bed bug infested and then, “playing dumb” when she inquired as to why she was getting a rash and bites, really ?

The financial award may seem significant but perhaps this guy needs some jail time as well !

3 nobugsonme June 2, 2013 at 12:54 am


I am sure many people share your unfortunate situation.


Yes, it’s quite horrific!

4 Been there June 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I have had the same issue from a luxury apartment in NYC. Unfortunately the attorney I hired who has a bed bug attorney page turned out to close properties (nothing wrong with that but not someone who could really help me) in Long Island. My daughter and I were bitten, couldn’t have anyone to our “home”, slept on a plastic camping tarp on twin coleman mattresses surrounded by double sided tape. I still paid my rent on time hoping I could believe management they would be gone. Read Bed Bug Registry and spoke with staff where it was revealed they had lied on my disclosure and there was a building infestation since at least 2010. After my daughter woke up to 14 huge, painful welts we were forced out of our home. We became homeless in July of 2012 and spent the first of many night sleeping in our 1997 car. I nudged the attorney to sue in order to move, replace almost all our infested belongings, and pay my 21 year old daughter the $4-5,000 she put out for hotels (till we ran out of credit), XL zip lock bags, etc. I am nearly 59, disabled and the stress has sent me to the ER numerous times this year. I have been rotating between friends, the car, etc. The management company (despite a letter from my attorney in July informing them I would stop paying rent as of August 1st due to the uninhabitable conditions (nowhere to sleep, eat, relax, all our clothes in plastic bags). They responded by suing me in October for eviction! They offered to drop that if I dropped my case. ($2,200). Then to add insult to injury, I had to hire a housing court attorney (my attorney doesn’t do housing court) who took our money and never showed up resulting in a default judgment on my credit!!! My attorney told me weeks ago he felt he couldn’t go forward with this case now that the judgment had been placed. The offer that this huge multi-billion dollar management firm gave was $10,000 (before attorney and court fees including paying their attorneys for the eviction suit!). Also the opposing attorney mailed information to the Clerk of Court and the judge saw it before the hearing. I am happy to see this woman get justice. After a year of suffering, losing everything, and being homeless I can totally relate to her. I have documented everything but my attorneys (including the housing court one recommended by my case lawyer) all kept telling me to just take the settlement offer. I emailed an article on this days ago and have still not heard from them!!

some of the staff in the building and come to find out there has beena

5 nobugsonme June 6, 2013 at 12:15 am

Hi Been there,

I am so sorry you have been through this.

If you are serious about a lawsuit, you might consider speaking to a different attorney, who may have more bed bug case experience. The one cited in this article claims to have been involved with hundreds of cases involving bed bugs. Other articles in our page on bed bug lawsuits also mention attorneys by name who may possibly have more experience with bed bugs than the one you’re working with.

6 Secret Siren October 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm

I never respond to various things I read but the Lord nudged me on this 1! I also live in Md and I had a bedbug problem (major) my landlady & her moronic boyfriend (the maintenance joke) did nothing about except tried heating up the room (no that doesn’t wk). The critters go inside stuff & under stuff til the heat is gone! The only thing that kicks their nasty bed bug butts is DE (diatomaceous earth). It’s inexpensive, nontoxic & totally safe for humans, pets & plants to ingest. It works on the bugs by drying them out (think mummification). It’s easy to apply & kills on contact. I get it in 50-100 lbs bags & I’ve been blessed to

discover a litany of human, animal & plant health benefits as well as debugging infoors & out. It is worth it & you deserve the freedom from bed bug tyranny. If u’d like more info or to access the de email me. Bed Bug victims unite! God bless you. By-the-by I rid my former landlord of the bed bugsmoved

7 nobugsonme November 2, 2013 at 1:05 am

Hi Siren,

I’m glad diatomaceous earth did it for you. It can work but is often misapplied or used incorrectly or in dangerous ways. You may not be aware that even “food grade” DE can cause serious lung problems and skin irritation, so it’s important to be careful.

I suggest anyone wanting to use DE read our FAQ on DE as a start on their research before deciding where and how to apply it.

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