Bed bugs. Just saying those two words together is enough to make me start to itch and twitch uncontrollably at the thought of these devious little pests. So a case in which a Maryland woman recently won an $800,000 settlement against her landlord for one of the most horrific bed bug cases you've ever heard has me all sorts of uncomfortable.
According to the Baltimore Sun, last week a jury awarded the sum to Faika Shaaban who says she unknowingly moved into an infested apartment in Annapolis in 2011. Once living there she received hundreds of bites on her body, some of which left scars. She says the property owner, Cornelius J. Barrett, knew about the bugs before she moved in ... and let her move in anyway, which sounds criminal to me.
She apparently tried to get him to fumigate the place, but her requests were denied. Eventually his way of dealing with them was to evict Shaaban, and when he did so, he just put her belongings out on the curb. Not so surprisingly, they were stolen. Her attorney told the Sun, "She lost practically everything due to this." Tragic, but talk about karma for those thieves if they brought the bed-bug infested items into their house!
The jury only took 45 minutes to decide that she should be awarded the money -- $150,000 in compensatory damages and $650,000 in punitive damages. I'm not sure that's even enough to make up for such a traumatic experience, but it's good to hear that she won. It's also great that other shady landlords are being sent a strong message that bed bugs aren't anything to mess around with, and hopefully will prevent other people from going through what Shaaban did.
Attorneys say they expect to see a rise in bed bug lawsuits in coming years. Attorney Tom Campbell told the paper, "There are enough lawyers who are getting trained so that people will be able to find lawyers, so that people will find a way to get relief." So at least there's that.
If you're still feeling all itchy after reading this, check out this "Super Paranoid's Guide to Ultimate Bed Bug Defense." It's got some good information and advice on how to spot and deal with them.
Have you ever had to deal with bed bugs?
Image via Medill DC/Flickr