Bed Bugs Ignored, $800k Award: A Landlord’s Costly Mistake
A Maryland woman who lived with bed bugs for over eight months was awarded $800,000 in compensation after suing her landlord.
The lawsuit argues that the landlord knew about the infestation when Faika Shabaan moved into the converted Annapolis home, but failed to tell her. When 69-year-old Shabaan began suffering from skin lesions, a friend identified the bites to be from bed bugs.
Out of concern for herself and her neighbors, a younger woman with a baby, Shabaan reported the problem to her landlord for weeks to no response. She then went to the on-site superintendent, who admitted to knowing about the bugs, but not telling the tenants for fear of getting fired. City employees found the property to be in code violation, reporting that the landlord attempted to kill the bugs himself with propane heaters. Had he used a proper steam treatment and spray application, this case may have been avoided.
After hearing that Shabaan had filed reports with the city, the landlord shut off her water supply and evicted her when she left the home, leaving her property on the curb to be damaged and stolen.
Shabaan made a case with attorney Daniel Whitney, who currently represents 75 clients suing for bed bug infestations. “[The landlord] defies the order of the city,” Whitney remarked. He hopes that the $800k awarded by the court will send a message to landlords that bed bugs are a serious concern, and that the courts will make sure they pay one way or another.