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Bed Bug Infestations, Bed Bug Lawsuits on the Rise?

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on July 06, 2010 10:17 AM

Blood sucking parasites. Please, no attorney jokes allowed here. This is an examination of a growing problem garnering press coverage and scaring everyone from business travelers to teenagers shopping for cool clothes. We are speaking of course of Cinex lectularius, the bed bug. Bed bug infestations are nothing new, but the recent spike in news stories about infestations and the bed bug lawsuit that can result seems to be something fairly recent.

According to Reuters, even the Mayor of New York City has the nasty creatures in his sights. He has been asked by teen clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch to help with what it says is a "growing infestation of bed bugs in New York City." Recently, Abercrombie has been forced to close two of its New York stores (South Street Seaport and the SOHO Hollister store) due to an infestation of the critters.

Bed bugs are nocturnal insects that feed only on blood. They live in mattresses, bed frames, carpeting, wall crevices and other dark spaces. Chemical traps cannot eradicate them as they are only interested in their sole food source. According to Bed-Bug.org, one chemical that could work on them, DDT, has been outlawed in the U.S.

What could you do if you are the victim of a bed bug infestation as a result of a stay in a hotel or due to an invasion in your rented property? Many people who have suffered the bites, and the skin diseases that can sometimes accompany a bed bug infestation, have sued. You need not seek out a "bed bug attorney," but the advice of an expert in the area of personal injury may be helpful. Reportedly, lawsuits have ranged from a 2004 case which awarded a rent abatement to New York tenants attacked by the bugs, to a 2008 case of an opera singer allegedly bit over 150 times. That case is proceeding against Hilton Hotels and is seeking $6 million in damages.

A very recent case involves students at Portland State University in Oregon. Due to a severe infestation, many students had to move out of one of the campus apartment complexes. According to Bedbugger.com, they were not allowed to retrieve their belongings without paying an early move-out fee or the remainder on their rental agreement.

Many businesses prefer to settle bed bug lawsuits out of court to avoid the unpleasant and creepy publicity that sometimes comes with these claims. Since this is the case, be sure to speak to a qualified attorney if you are pursuing a bed bug suit or are the defendant in one yourself.

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