Guests bite back in bed bug suit

GLENDALE — A lawsuit against a Glendale hotel that alleges three women suffered more than 100 bites from “blood-engorged bed bugs” crawling on infested beds soon will go trial, attorneys for the women said.

The plaintiffs — Nicole Eatman, Vera Domini and Regina Martocci — are suing Rodeway Inn-Regalodge Motel, at 200 W. Colorado St. and its franchiser, Choice Hotels International Inc., after staying for three nights in a room that was allegedly infested with adult bed bugs and their larvae, according a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

In the jury trial that is expected to start May 2, the will seek restitution for medical bills and “mental anguish.”

“We feel the bed bugs have been there for a while,” the women’s attorney, Lourdes DeArmas, said. “They knew about the bed bugs, but they continued to rent out the room.”

David Peikin, a spokesman for Choice Hotels International, said the Glendale motel is an independently-owned and operated company franchise.

He declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

Soon after Eatman, Domini and Martocci stayed at the motel on Oct. 5, 2009, the women claim they began noticing itchy bumps forming on their bodies, according to the lawsuit filed in June.

The women initially suspected the bumps were mosquito bites, but the itching got worse and more bumps appeared, according to the lawsuit.

Three days later, they began pulling off the bed sheets and turning over the mattresses in search of the source, DeArmas said.

That’s when they uncovered “blood-engorged bed bugs” crawling on the beds. Others were in between nooks of the hotel furniture, according to the lawsuit.

The bed bugs varied in sizes and appeared to be at different life stages, including egg, larvae and adult, the lawsuit claims.

After the discovering the bed bugs, they left the motel at about 3 a.m. and headed to the nearest laundromat to wash their belongings, DeArmas said.

“They never imagined this,” she said.

They bought new clothes and luggage, then returned to the motel to talk with managers, who they alleged refused to refund the room and cover their laundry fees, according to the lawsuit.

That same day, the women received medical care for the bites and later sought counseling for “anxiety, disgust, mental anguish and insomnia.”

Domini suffered 167 bed bug bites while staying at the motel, DeArmas said.

DeArmas said the motel had paid for extermination services four times to get rid of the bed bug infestation.

Attorneys for the hotel contending in court filings that managers never received customer complaints about bed bugs.


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