By Doreen Allison. Bedding. Published at Sunday, May 06th, 2018 - 00:38:50 AM.
The resurgence of bed bugs has created a particularly vexing problem for the hospitality industry. Rooms that were pest-free one night can be infected by a guest the next. Legal experts have noticed a boom in bed bug litigation with guests suing hotels for millions of dollars. "Not only can a hotel get a terrible reputation for allowing the creepy crawly bed buddies to exist, but they can also lose out on a lot of dough," wrote a blogger on HotelChatter.com. Some lawyers are actually trawling for bed bug clients. A notice on InjuryBoard.com reads: "If you have been the victim of bed bug infestation, it may be important to contact an attorney who can help you protect your legal rights."
Bed side rails have been in existence for years and are manufactured by several different companies with numerous configurations and designs. A quick search of the Internet discloses a number of medical supply companies which manufacture and sell these products. The most common bed rail designs include full-length rails, three-quarter-length rails, half-length rails, quarter-length rails, and split-rail configuration (often the most dangerous design). Bed rails are used extensively in hospitals and nursing homes. In hospitals, their use is typically a nursing decision rather than based upon a physician’s order. However, in nursing homes, Federal regulations require a physician’s order if bed rails are to be used, as the regulations recognize side rails as a form of restraint. Notwithstanding the requirement for nursing homes, physician’s orders are often not obtained because of the belief that bed rails are simply a safety device. This is a misconception: bed rails often cause injury or death.
What you don‘t see is hotels suing guests who bring bed bugs with them. Adept hitchhikers, they enter hotel rooms in guests‘ luggage or on their clothing. Most won‘t leave with the guest; they‘ll nest in and near the bed awaiting the next occupant and their next meal. Bed bugs are not a sanitation issue. About the size of an apple seed, the tiny nocturnal pests are nuisance parasites that feed on human blood. They do not transmit disease but can cause considerable emotional distress. In about 50% of their victims, bed bug bites produce itchy red welts that may take two days to develop, complicating detection. Many hotel guests check out before an infestation is discovered. Prolific breeders, females can produce up to 500 eggs during their one-year lifespan.
The financial impact of a bed bug suit can be substantial. In the 2003 landmark case (Matthias v. Accor Economy Lodging); Toronto siblings who stayed in a bed bug-infested motel room received a jury award of $382,000 in their suit against Motel 6. In 2006, a Chicago couple sued a Catskills resort for $20 million, saying they were physically and mentally scarred after suffering 500 bed bug bites. "I was horrified to see all of those bites all over my body," said plaintiff Leslie Fox. "I was miserable. My skin felt as if it was on fire and I wanted to tear it off." In 2007, New York opera star Allison Trainer sued the Hilton hotel chain for $6 million claiming she suffered more than 100 bed bug bites at a Hilton Suites in Phoenix. Her story was widely reported in the press: "They were all over the bed and the comforter and the pillows and I pulled the sheets off and they were just everywhere." Her attorney documented 150 bites and 23 scars. Just last month a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that two Maryland tourists bitten by bed bugs during a 2003 stay at the Milford Plaza could proceed with their $2 million negligence suit, though punitive damages were denied.
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