Bed Bug Lawsuit Case Example...



This hypothetical case deals with a bed bug lawsuit against a New York hotel. We'll discuss relevant legal issues including specific damages, liability, settlement negotiations, and the final case resolution.

The Incident...

Max and Emma were on their honeymoon in New York staying at the Lindole Hotel. On the first night, everything seemed fine, but upon waking up the second day Emma had welts and swelling covering her legs and back and she was in severe discomfort.

Not knowing what was wrong, she went immediately to an urgent care clinic in Manhattan where they also had no idea what the cause of Emma's welts could be. They prescribed her pain killers and Benadryl and sent her on her way. The following day, her welts and swelling was even worse. By the third day, Max had several welts on his legs and he was also in great discomfort.

Max and Emma were watching a local television broadcast and heard that bed bug infestations were increasing in Manhattan and the Lindole Hotel recently had an outbreak, however when Max and Emma booked their room no one advised them of this problem.

The rest of Max and Emma's trip was spent in and out of urgent care until someone with experience in bed bug epidemiology could properly treat her. Needless to say, their honeymoon was terrible.

Liability...

New York bed bugs are a new problem and insurance companies, at the time, did not know how to handle such claims. At first, they denied any liability and referred Emma to her primary care physician. Thereafter, they offered to pay Emma's medical expenses up to $500.

However, once Emma hired an attorney and threatened to file a bed bug lawsuit, the insurance company accepted liability and began working with her attorney to reach a settlement.

Injuries...

Max and Emma both experienced severe bites from the bed bugs that exhibited themselves as swollen welts, similar to mosquito bites. In addition to the bites, both Max and Emma had severe itching which led to irritation in the affected areas.

Negotiations...

Though their medical bills were not significant (Emma incurred $580 in urgent care bills and Max incurred $320), the major expense came in the financial losses attributed to the honeymoon.

Max and Emma had scheduled and pre-paid for two tours totaling $1,200 which they were unable to attend due to their pain. These tours were non-refundable.

The remainder of the honeymoon was $4,000 ($400 per night at the hotel for 7 nights and $1,200 in travel from Louisiana where they resided). Therefore, their total losses were $6,100. The insurance company refused to cover anything that could not be directly linked, in their minds, to the bed bugs incident.

Final Settlement...

In the end, the attorney managed to convince the insurance adjuster that the medical bills of $900 were clearly covered as well as the nightly expenses at the hotel for $2,800. They denied the non-refundable expenses associated with the tour arguing that Max and Emma should pursue the tour company, not the hotel.

They also denied the travel expenses arguing that Max and Emma would still need to travel to and from New York notwithstanding the bed bug incident. Typically, out-of-pocket expenses are reimbursed and not used as the basis for pain and suffering.

The medical bills of $900 were used as the basis for settlement, and Max and Emma received $3,500 to compensate them for their inconvenience, pain and suffering. When added to the $2,800 hotel expense, the total settlement was $6,300. They used this money to take a second honeymoon on their one year anniversary to Jamaica.

Important Points...

  • An insurance adjuster can deny a claim at first and then accept liability when given more facts, though this does not happen often.

  • New or uncommon theories of liability and causes of action (such as in a bed bug lawsuit like this) may cause people to shy away from a claim based solely on lack of information.

  • Insurance companies will typically only settle claims and offer money for those events or situations directly related to the injury.

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