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Bed Bug Lawsuits Now Target Apartments

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 01, 2010 10:58 AM

Cimex lectularius: two Latin words unfortunately becoming all too familiar because they are the scientific name for the common bed bug. As noted in several previous posts, bed bug infestations and the resulting damage to homes and people are increasingly making news. So are the bed bug lawsuits that inevitably result.

Bed bugs have been making a comeback since the 1990's, after being all but eradicated earlier in the century by the use of strong pesticides, including the now banned DDT. The U.S. has been facing increasing infestations due to increased global travel and a lack of a DDT replacement.

In New York, recently dubbed the "bed bug capital of North America" by The Washington Post, the bugs have affected tourism and even shopping, as hotels are hit with lawsuits and stores in Manhattan are closed to deal with infestations.

Now a Maryland man has made a name for himself as "the bed bug lawyer." According to Newser.com, attorney Daniel Whitney has taken on the role of champion of those looking for relief from infestations in legal action.

Take the case of Mike and Amanda, who moved into what they thought was a spiffy new apparent in Cockeysville, Maryland, according to ABC 2 News. To their dismay, the apartment was infested with bed bugs: "They would see and kill five or ten a day on the walls of their bedroom they saw them coming out of the vents in the bathroom the wood trim around the bedroom door they were coming out of that [sic] the carpeting under the bed," Whitney told ABC 2.

Mike and Amanda had to move and throw out furniture, clothes and bedding. They say they have lost nearly everything they own and they want to be compensated. Their bed bug lawsuit against Hirschfield Management of Connecticut, the owners of the Steeplechase Apartments, is seeking compensatory damages for their expenses, including the loss of their possessions and the deposit on the apartment they say was not returned to them.

Daniel Whitney says the complex owners knew about the problem when they rented the apartment to Mike and Amanda, so they are seeking punitive damages as well. Punitive damages are awarded when the court finds the defendant has acted in an outrageous manner and should be punished for the action and deterred from repeating it in the future.

Hirschfield Management has declined to comment on the suit.

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