When Stacey Belle of Winston Salem, North Carolina checked into her room at the Red Roof Inn in Prince George’s County, she expected a good night’s sleep in a clean room. What she did not expect was to be woken up and serving as the main course on a bedbug buffet.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. The itching brought about by the onslaught was enough to wake her from her sleep. And, to her horror, upon turning on the lights, she found herself covered in red welts and the area under her pillows crawling with bedbugs.
Evidence surfaced during legal proceedings indicating that the Red Roof Inn where Belle was staying had dealt with bedbug infestations before and that Belle’s room had not been checked for bedbugs prior to her taking up occupancy. The result was an interrupted night’s sleep, the risk of infestation of Belle’s home, and a very distressing stay that culminated in a guest waking up surrounded by insects.
A jury agreed that Belle suffered an extraordinary hardship due to the hotel’s carelessness and awarded her $100,000 for injuries sustained by the bugs and the mental distress she suffered as a result. The Red Roof Inn takes significant issue with the amount of the award and, in a statement, makes it clear that they will fight it.
Bedbugs, while small, can have significant impacts when discovered. A bedbug infestation can be very difficult to eradicate and the parasites can spread very quickly. Apartment buildings are particularly susceptible to infestation, however, the insects can be transferred from work to home as well. Colleges and top tier technology companies like Google have been forced to deal with bedbug infestations as well as luxury hotel properties including the famed Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
While the CDC states that a bedbug bite carries no public health implications, the cost of extermination can be high and the impact to business productivity can be significant. The discovery of a single dead bedbug recently shut down a Philadelphia call center responsible for fielding tens of thousands of resident and visitor requests per month, leaving phones unanswered until the next morning.