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Maryland woman wins bed bug lawsuit, jury awards $225K

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  1. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Mar 10 2012 4:15:05
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    A MD jury awarded $225K to a Maryland consumer who said she bought two wooden beds for her sons which contained bed bugs.

    Check out the full story here (with links).

    Note also our FAQ about bed bug lawsuits, which is getting longer and longer...

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  2. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Mar 11 2012 21:08:33
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    $225 K, that's a lot of bed bug work.

    There are bed bug cases that are "settled" discretely such that the results are not published or disclosed to the public. And, while case resultined in a significant award, there are likley private settlements in some cases that are equally if not even more significant.

    Have a nice day ! paul b.

  3. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Mar 12 2012 5:02:56
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    There's an interesting discussion on the value of lawsuits (and the issues surrounding ones like this) just getting started over on the blog (click "comments").

  4. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Mar 12 2012 6:37:46
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    Well, it tells me I have to log in again to comment there but I'm in a hurry so I'll comment here and you can copy it over there perhaps.

    Some comments:

    > Fortunately, this case ia a latter of public record and, as such, you may search it and see some details.

    > The court does not award such amounts in a frivilous manner, evidence was heard, the case was argued and jurists discuss and decide, it's our system.

    > How the court works and how court cases actually occur are not well represented or depicted on television shows. It is much different than what many might think.

    > How would you react to learning that the furniture store sold you furniture items that were already infested with bed bugs?

    > Should a furniture store that picks up and delivers used furniture in the same truck that delivers your new furniture take precautions to prevent the spread of bed bugs from customer to customer?

    > Remember "buyer beware"? The consuming public needs to be aware and ask questions of their vendors to protect themselves. A case such as this underscores this.

    Hope this helps ! paul b.

  5. cilecto

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Mar 12 2012 9:41:02
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    Sad story, but not unexpected.

    I did some Googling for the location and found an interesting article on "Patch.com". http://elkridge.patch.com/articles/elkridge-retailer-fined-225-000-in-bedbug-lawsuit#photo-9303085 From the appearances in the photo, this looks like the store that does "liquidations", a patchwork of furniture, and (tellingly) re-cycled mattresses. I see these stores in neighborhoods all over New York and gather that they exist in other metro areas. Their MO seems to be furniture on display outside the store and usually a recycled mattress or two leaned up against a wall. On the basis of the recycled mattresses, I'd consider anything out of these stores or off their trucks as "suspect". The Patch story hints that Calidad has gone out of business and owes money to various parties.

    As to the verdict, I would guess that this includes both compensatory (ie, how much this hurt the plaintiff) and punitive (teach you a lesson for doing the wrong thing). A judge may reduce the amount. The defendant can negotiate downward in exchange for not appealing, plus there's his ability/willingness to pay.

    Depending on circumstances, a bed bug infestation can be devastatingly disruptive. Besides the cash to pest control, there's the labor for repeated prep, potentially lost property, loss of time, disrupted social life, impacted grades at school, impacted performance at work and on and on. It can take months or years to fully recover. Is $225,000 really generous for such a situation?

    Ironically, the furniture store's neighbor is the "US 1 Flea Market".

    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night...
    - Psalms 91:5-7

    (Not an pro)
  6. Winston O. Buggy

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Mar 12 2012 9:55:43
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    While I tried to find the particulars there are only the press accounts which make the award seem a bit high. Sympathy should not set judgements but rather facts. It certainly does however cry out for the need for educational outreach. That it took so long to identify a problem which started with the introduction of a bed at this point is troublesome. It also underscores that physicians/dermatologists could not identify or consider bed bugs as a possible cause is also of note.

  7. cilecto

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Mar 12 2012 10:04:44
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    http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiry-index.jsp

    After OK-ing the agreement, search for Anne Arundel County and Case# 02C10157321

  8. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Mar 12 2012 18:51:15
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    Dear Folks,

    One of the valuable things about this website is the comments posted from the variety of perspectives that each person brings to the table.

    Please understand that it is NOT my intention to seem or be condescending in any way. This said, some comments:

    > We need to remember that despite what we think, that there was a "jury of the defendant's peers" who sat through the trial, heard the openeing and closing argments from both counsel, were presented the evidence, had all exhibits available for their review, were instructed by the judge, deliberated in closed quarters and ultimately decided the case.

    > We also need to realize that the facts represented in the news story are the virtual "tip of the iceberg" when compared to the entirety of the evidence information presented during the trial. As such, any comments based upon what we can find online or in the news clips is subject to the limited information available.

    > In short, there is much more to these cases than what may be reported in the newspaper. And, while there may be ways to obtain the written transcript of certain cases, for the most part the ability to do so is contingent upon having a subscription to a service that provides such transcripts and/or at the discretion of the court to make such records available.

    > Suffice it to say that the furniture in question was infested with bed bugs at the time of delivery.

    Imagine what it might be like had this happened to your own child !

    Haave a great & bug free day ! paul b.

  9. lsdrg706

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Mar 12 2012 19:42:49
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    Winston O. Buggy - 9 hours ago  » 
    While I tried to find the particulars there are only the press accounts which make the award seem a bit high. Sympathy should not set judgements but rather facts.

    And as well the very real mental distress some of us experience could and should affect these rewards.

    Pain and suffering isn't all physical.

  10. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Mar 12 2012 22:48:39
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    cilecto - 13 hours ago  » 

    Depending on circumstances, a bed bug infestation can be devastatingly disruptive. Besides the cash to pest control, there's the labor for repeated prep, potentially lost property, loss of time, disrupted social life, impacted grades at school, impacted performance at work and on and on. It can take months or years to fully recover. Is $225,000 really generous for such a situation?

    Regarding the "generous" statement, I've already posted a clarification of why I said that on the blog comments, for anyone who's interested.

  11. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Mar 13 2012 6:17:50
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    Perhaps it would be more appropriate to insert the word "punitive" in place of the word "generous".

    There were reasons the jury made their decision as they did and this was based upon the facts and evidence presented in the case.

    pb

  12. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Mar 13 2012 23:51:27
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    P Bello - 17 hours ago  » 
    Perhaps it would be more appropriate to insert the word "punitive" in place of the word "generous".
    There were reasons the jury made their decision as they did and this was based upon the facts and evidence presented in the case.
    pb

    It seems like an award which is 50% more than the plaintiff sought is both generous and punitive.


    Note:
    "generous" does not mean "inappropriately so." You may be an expert on bed bugs, Paul, but I know a thing or two about words.

    One can only assume that the jury was moved to this decision based on what was presented.

    As I have repeatedly stated, I am sure we don't have all the information on this case. That remains true.

  13. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Mar 13 2012 23:54:30
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    cilecto - 1 day ago  » 
    http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiry-index.jsp
    After OK-ing the agreement, search for Anne Arundel County and Case# 02C10157321

    I had read this, but honestly, there is not a lot of detail there. Did you gather much from it, Ci?

  14. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Mar 14 2012 12:54:20
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    Of concern is that you are all correct in that you do not know all the details as those who were party to the case.

    If we trust in the system in place then we also need to understand that a non biased jury made the decisions which resulted.

    It is likely that any of you may have come to the same conclusions had you participated on that jury.

    Think about it, a group of independent and unbiased people were selected tot he jury panel by the court and assigned with the duty of hearing the evidence and deciding the case.

    Is it appropriate to question the decisions reached without knowing all the details?

    pb

  15. cilecto

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Mar 14 2012 13:50:20
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    Nobugsonme - 13 hours ago  » 

    cilecto - 1 day ago  » 
    http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiry-index.jsp
    After OK-ing the agreement, search for Anne Arundel County and Case# 02C10157321

    I had read this, but honestly, there is not a lot of detail there. Did you gather much from it, Ci?

    No, I don't know more than I learned from the online case, the Sun and Patch articles.

  16. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Mar 14 2012 13:53:50
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    P Bello - 55 minutes ago  » 
    Of concern is that you are all correct in that you do not know all the details as those who were party to the case.
    ...
    Is it appropriate to question the decisions reached without knowing all the details?
    pb

    Paul,

    Perhaps if you quoted the specific comments above which you are disagreeing with, it would be helpful. It really isn't clear to me what people are saying that you don't agree with.

    You seemed quite concerned with the use of the word "generous" to describe a jury award 50% higher than what the plaintiff sought.

    I never said it was inappropriate, just generous, as I have clarified above. You're reading more into that word than is there.

    Beyond that one specific comment you pointed to, I am not sure what you are objecting in the conversation above. So please quote the message(s) you're replying to so we can all be clear. Thanks!

  17. so unsettling

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Mar 14 2012 14:11:11
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    Hey P Bello, I found your pontifications on the great virtues of our wonderful judicial system to be rather quaint. Enjoyed reading it very much. I guess I do mean to be kind of condescending, but then no one's perfect chuckle.

    I don't know that anything is unbiased, including and perhaps especially juries. They probably never had any experience with bugs like this, and were really grossed out, freaked out.

    The award IS accessive. I am sure the store bears some responsibility, though I doubt they knew the bugs were there. The plaintiff also bears some responsibility for not knowing that it isn't a good idea to buy from those types of stores. Is she exempt from getting the education that the rest of us have to acquire?

    Anyway I don't see any point in all this "targeting" for blame. It isn't going to fix anything for us, and in fact diverts attention from the real problem, that is, the insidious ways these bugs move from place to place. Suing a boatload of businesses won't change a thing--it really confuses much of the public, who believe that bugs are a problem of hotels and luggage and furniture stores and macy's and craigs list. Most people haven't got a clue about how to protect themselves against these bugs, or what to do if they get them. And they won't learn anything just because a company had to fork over big bucks to someone who hadn't studied anything bedbugs herself.

  18. lsdrg706

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Mar 14 2012 15:42:31
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    so unsettling - 1 hour ago  » 
    Hey P Bello, I found your pontifications on the great virtues of our wonderful judicial system to be rather quaint. Enjoyed reading it very much. I guess I do mean to be kind of condescending, but then no one's perfect chuckle.
    I don't know that anything is unbiased, including and perhaps especially juries. They probably never had any experience with bugs like this, and were really grossed out, freaked out.
    The award IS accessive. I am sure the store bears some responsibility, though I doubt they knew the bugs were there. The plaintiff also bears some responsibility for not knowing that it isn't a good idea to buy from those types of stores. Is she exempt from getting the education that the rest of us have to acquire?
    Anyway I don't see any point in all this "targeting" for blame. It isn't going to fix anything for us, and in fact diverts attention from the real problem, that is, the insidious ways these bugs move from place to place. Suing a boatload of businesses won't change a thing--it really confuses much of the public, who believe that bugs are a problem of hotels and luggage and furniture stores and macy's and craigs list. Most people haven't got a clue about how to protect themselves against these bugs, or what to do if they get them. And they won't learn anything just because a company had to fork over big bucks to someone who hadn't studied anything bedbugs herself.

    The reward being "excessive" is a matter of perspective, much the same as how dealing with bed bugs can be horrifying for one individual whereas for another it is merely difficult. This isn't a million dollar case. While I'm certainly not running to the courthouse, if I had to put a price on my mental anguish alone that I have suffered, the judgement awarded seems to pale in comparison.

    Lawsuits can be absolutely beneficial, not only in setting precedents for laws that might not have passed otherwise. Call it a nudge in the behind, if you will. They also might cause businesses to take certain precautions that are not currently being taken even when they clearly should be, and in the end protect the consumer from situations like these, even if they are rare.

    Hell I wish this had happened in my state. Maybe the senator I have been communicating with could get some action on his bed bug act.

  19. BugsInTO

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Mar 14 2012 17:28:56
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    The plaintiff also bears some responsibility for not knowing that it isn't a good idea to buy from those types of stores. Is she exempt from getting the education that the rest of us have to acquire?

    People make decisions based on their knowledge, experience and circumstances. Their choices are limited by a number of factors (money, availability, etc.) I don't think that everyone should have to learn everything the hard way through personal experience and I have spoken up often for increased public education. When people make stupid decisions, or make mistakes or just "don't know what they don't know" they suffer the consequences. But, in this case, it sounds like the store didn't take reasonable precautions with their merchandise but still wanted to make a profit. It's the profiting off other people's misfortune that seems wrong.
    Plus, while people are learning from their mistakes, they are often taking other people down with them. With bedbugs, people don't suffer their consequences in isolation - they increase the chances of spreading infestations to other people.

  20. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Mar 15 2012 8:08:10
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    Dear Folks,

    While each of us brings different perspectives to the table, so do folks in a jury. Consider that:

    > The people in the juries don't know eachother.

    > They come from various backgrounds of experience, education, heritage, etc.

    > Those who's backgrounds may cause a conflict with being unbiased are generaly eliminated by the selection process.

    > Both sides have input in the selection process such that they can eliminate those potential jurors who they believe may be poor matches for their case.

    > The selected jurists get to hear and see the evidence, facts and arguments in the case.

    > After all this, the jurors deliberate and make their collective decision in the case.

    > There is a judge who oversees the selection process.

    ALL THAT SAID, please also consider that much like each juror expresses their viewpoints during the deliberation process, each of us posts our own viewpoints on this Forum as well. Perhaps a key difference is that there is no instruction from the judge and there will be no vote to arrive at a decision.

    And, while I understand that ALL the PERTINENT FACTS have not been disclosed to the public, in my view there is good reason that the court arrived at this result.

    Hopefully, in the near future, for those interested, I may be able to disclose certain information.

    In the meanwhile, let's all keep our comments civil and respectful as there is much that is unknown.

    Thanks, hope this helps, respectfully to all ! paul b.

  21. loubugs

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Mar 15 2012 13:05:24
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    I wonder if there were any expert witnesses. Haven't been able to find that out from reading anything so far.

    Professional entomologist/arachnologist. I consult on all matters dealing with insects and arachnids, including those of natural history and biology to pest management and forensic entomology investigations.
  22. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Mar 16 2012 15:32:53
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    Dear unsettling,

    Wow, I'm not sure how to perceive your comments above but there appears to be an over-riding negative tone. It's almost as if you were the named expert witness in the case and know a lot more about the case than you care to share however, I have it on excellent authority that this would not be so. As such, one wonders why or how you might be so adamant in your position and comments above.

    Regarding your post above; while I can't be 100% certain it seems that before one implements the phrase "I'm sure" it may be wise to have solid information other than one's own opinion upon which to base an opnion, argument or assertion.

    There is much information that is known but cannot be published at this time however, please consider the following hypothetical contributing factors when answering the questions below:

    > Suppose the defendant had prior knowledge of bed bug issues.

    > Suppose the defendant had prior knowlege yet failed to take suitable corrective actions.

    > Suppose the defendant had prior knowledge, failed to take suitable corrective actions and made efforts to hide the material defect from the customer.

    > Suppose the defendant conceded responsibility.

    Question(s):

    1. Please describe how each individual factor presented above affects your position that the jury award was excessive?

    2. Please compare and contrast how the combination of the factors described above either strengthens or weakens your position that the jury award was excessive?

    3. Please prepare two bullet point lists which present five key factors for each of the following:
    a) supporting the jury award as proper
    b) supporting that the jury award as excessive
    c) supporting that the jury award was deficient

    Bonus Question (50 points)
    In five hundred words or less please prepare an essay that supports how an individual who does not know all the facts, was not privy to the motions, did not review any of the case documents produced during discover, did not review any deposition transcripts and was not present at the actual trial for any case can make positive assertions about such cases in the hopes of being correct in doing so. Your essay must include at least three examples referenced to prior cases.

    Thanks for your comments, have a great weekend ! paul b.


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