Can Bedbugs At The Waldorf-Astoria Actually Give You An Anxiety Disorder?

The bedbug lawsuits are flying… or maybe they’re crawling. Anyway, Gothamist has a post about the most recent customer to point a calamine-scented finger at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Says the bitten:

“For the last 3 years I tried to recover from the bed bugs incident and forget about it,” [the plaintiff] says. “But I felt like something very important was taken from my life that night and was never returned. I felt like I was eaten alive by bed bugs which have attacked my body.” Her lawyer adds, “My client is terrified of staying at hotels after the incident and always carries bed bug spray, a magnifying glass and a flashlight to help her locate bed bugs whenever she is forced to stay at hotels. [The plaintiff] developed anxiety and sleep disorders. She is always scared that she might bring bed bugs back to her family home after staying at a hotel.”

This is apparently the third lawsuit against the Waldorf-Astoria over bedbugs — one couple from Michigan says their home was infected after staying at the hotel. Ick.

Waldorf-Astoria Bitten By THIRD Bedbug Lawsuit [Gothamist]

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  1. Bsamm09 says:

    Crazy woman sues for being crazy.

  2. danmac says:

    These lawsuits filed by people who are “traumatized” by trivial events are so tiresome. The plaintiff is either making a blatant money grab or has significant pre-existing anxiety issues that have nothing to do with bedbugs.

    • danmac says:

      Oh, and before someone RTFAs me, I realize that the woman alleges that there were complications from the bedbug attack that she says require cosmetic surgery. While that might not be trivial, it certainly isn’t worth the $10 million she’s asking for.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        A pretty insensitive thing to say. You really have no idea if the incident flipped o a switch of fear due to the incident.

        Completely normal and sane people can sometimes go completely coocoo bananas over seemingly innocuous things.

        • Beeker26 says:

          Like someone failing to RTFA?

          /bazinga!

        • danmac says:

          Honestly, in the context of this lawsuit, I don’t really care if the incident made her afraid. Look at it this way:

          Person A: Bedbugs + infection + possible surgery + psychological trauma = $10 million

          Person B: Identical situation, minus the psychological part = $???

          So the person who has mental issues deserves more money? If that’s the case, I guess there’s a pretty big monetary incentive for people to fake mental health issues when they’re suing, isn’t there? Which makes me cynical.

        • jesirose says:

          “Completely normal and sane people can sometimes go completely coocoo bananas over seemingly innocuous things.”

          Citation?

        • shepd says:

          That’s fine, however, without intent, it seems all you should be due is the cost to repair what’s broke. That means your hotel reservation (since it’s reasonable to expect a bug-free experience), your stuff (if it gets “infected” with bed-bugs and they can’t be easily removed), and eradication fees (if they hitch a ride home with you).

          That’s it. I’d throw in the cosmetic surgery if it were really required.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Before you say 10 million is too much, do the math on a potentially lifetime of therapy.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I have a hatred of spiders stemming from (what I consider) traumatic incident. Things aren’t traumatic unless they affect you in that way. One person’s “no big deal” is another person’s constant nightmare. I don’t underestimate the kind of trauma people can experience from what seems to others to be a “trivial” event to others. You never know what will keep you up at night.

      • veritybrown says:

        The question isn’t whether some people experience genuine trauma over things that most others would consider trivial. The question is whether businesses should be forced to pay huge settlements to customers who have an atypically traumatic reaction.

        Bedbugs have become an unfortunate reality of travel over the last ten years, especially in New York City, and they are horribly difficult to eradicate. Anyone who doesn’t know that must be living under a rock. Unless the Waldorf-Astoria has been advertising “100 percent GUARANTEED bedbug-free rooms” (and I doubt that ANY hotel these days is that stupid), it makes no sense to award this woman big bucks because she lost her mind over a not-unknown hazard of travel.

    • milkcake says:

      I want to agree with you that it’s “trivial” thing. But even I get paranoid after seeing a roach crawling up on my arms and every little thing feels like roaches for like days. Sure I get over it, but for days, I do suffer. So it’s trivial in one sense and not in other. I can say that my wife goes crazy over it for months if she sees a roach let alone crawling up on her body.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        I agree with you on the roach thing. God, it’s one thing I will never miss about NYC or DC – The random sight of roaches crawling on people’s person or belongings on the subway.

        If there is such a thing as roach-o-phobia, I have it. If I checked into a NY hotel and found roaches, they would have heard the screaming in Newark. I don’t know that I would have sued over it – but I certainly would have blown a mental gasket.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      My former law professor had a great sense of humor. One day he showed us what “shock to the nervous system” meant, so he just shook his body for a second as if he just touched an electrical socket and said that is a shock to the nervous system and that’s what alot of people sue and collect money for.

  3. benh999 says:

    Sounds like another case of corporate America putting profits before people. This poor woman is hopelessly traumatized because the Waldorf-Astoria won’t pay for an exterminator. Universal lodging can not come soon enough.

    • sirwired says:

      Bedbugs happen. They are not necessarily the sign of cheapness, poor hygiene, or lax maintenance. The rooms cannot be proactively treated with no sign of infestation, as the pesticides that control them are quite rightly not licensed for that use.

    • Veeber says:

      Really? So are the hotels suppose to steam clean and then prophylactically spray pesticides? That makes no sense. They aren’t being cheap.

      • benh999 says:

        The WA is a huge hotel. It is cheaper to put tens of thousands at risk of infestation and pay the occasional one off than to properly maintain their property. It is the Wal-Mart of the hospitality industry.

        • veritybrown says:

          It isn’t “cheap” to have your business decline because you are known for having bedbugs–in fact, it’s very expensive, as a great many NYC business owners have been discovering. The reality is that bedbugs are horribly difficult to get rid of, regardless of the amount of money you throw at them. And a hotel could spend thousands of dollars to eradicate an infestation, only to have a brand new infestation walk in with the next customer’s luggage.

          I know it’s comfortable sitting your little socialist niche, hating all privately owned businesses, but bedbugs really don’t care who owns the bed. And people who stand to lose their livelihood from a bedbug infestation are probably a lot more interested in getting rid of it than “the government” is.

      • MisteriosaNYC says:

        Bedbugs have been a (very viciously guarded) problem in elite Manhattan circles for at least the last decade. In my college days on the UES (circa 2001), I would see what looked like brand new mattresses that were worth thousands of dollars lined up on the garbage piles all along Park Ave. WA had to have known this was a problem, especially among its affluent client base. Some type of extermination serivices should have been used for prevention.

        As for the bedbugs being traumatizing, I will agree to that (though not to the tune of a cool $10 mil). When I was younger, I fell asleep on my grandmother’s sofa and a fire ant colony had nested there. I woke up covered in dozens (if it wasn’t at least 100) fire ants and getting the hell bitten out of me. That freaked me out for quite a while and it took at leat a year for the scars to disappear. Everything from the breeze to my clothes felt like ants all over my body for a long time.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      They are supposed to have clean and pest free beds. I agree with this woman. If they had done thier job and hired exterminator or done what they had to to eliminate the bugs, they wouldn’t be getting sued.

  4. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    From what I hear, bedbugs really get inside your head. Even when you’re not getting bitten, you’re constantly checking yourself for bites. Any little itch or physical sensation is short-circuited to “BEDBUGS” instead of something you’d normally dismiss as a side-effect of having skin.

    Can’t speak for bedbugs but I’ve slept someplace that was invaded by ants. It was a terrifying year afterwords where the first mental response to every little prickle was to dart fully awake, rub myself like someone poured sand on me, flight on the lights, and look for the trail of ants.

    • jesusofcool says:

      I believe it. I’ve never been around them to my knowledge but I live in a city and I’ve got a heavy dose of paranoia about them.

  5. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    Dear Consumerist,

    Reading another story about people being ‘traumatized’ by something has cause me to also become traumatized.

    Please remit the amount I have determined will de-traumatize me, $500,000, to me in American dollars (not in pesos, kroners or drawings of spiders) by 5:00pm EST today, or I will be further traumatized and find some sleazy lawyer to sue you and everyone you know for 15 bajillion dollars for emotional distress.

    Thnak you,

  6. Grungo says:

    Hmm… “eggshell plaintiff,” or crazy b****?

  7. richcreamerybutter says:

    I think her lawsuit is excessive, but anyone with bedbug experience will you that yes indeed, they can be traumatic. Just go to the forum of bedbugger.com for some examples.

    • veritybrown says:

      Sorry, but “anyone with bedbug experience” is not going to agree. We stayed in a motel and discovered some bedbugs as a result of being bitten. We experienced some disgust, but no trauma. Bedbugs are a reality of travel these days.

      Are some people “traumatized” by being bitten by a mosquito or a horsefly? I’m sure you could find some people out there who are. Would the average person be sympathetic to that kind of overreaction? Probably not. Would a judge award a huge settlement against a stable owner to someone bitten by a horsefly while they were visiting the stable? I certainly hope not!

      Making businesses responsible for the unusual phobias of their customers is a really BAD precedent.

      • richcreamerybutter says:

        Congratulations on not carrying them back to your residence, but maybe you should speak to a few others who have experienced invasions before making such an assumption. Once they make their way into your home, they can be almost impossible to eradicate. The trauma is not so much from the physical sensation of an insect bite, but the knowledge that you can’t get rid of them. It’s a loss of control. Then again, if you’d bothered to read the link I posted you would already know this.

  8. Blueskylaw says:

    Ocean’s Thirteen remake?

  9. DorsalRootGanglion says:

    Without exaggeration, having bedbugs in my apartment was one of the worst experiences of my life in terms of sheer mental exhaustion, physical symptoms, financial concerns, and social stigmatism. I am very wary of going to hotels. That said, there are relatively simply ways to avoid getting or bringing bugs to hotels. Get a Pack-Tite (400 dollars of piece of mind), inspect carefully before you sleep, and keep your luggage in the bathtub before you unpack. Easy!

  10. RickinStHelen says:

    Having had to deal with bed bugs in a hotel, I can understand the very real possibility of someone suffering PTSD if, and this is a big if, there was a medical issue involved. Look at some of the pictures of bed bug bites, and you will see it is not simply a small bite, like say a mosquito. I still am very uncomfortable staying hotels, and tear the beds down to check for bed bugs before I go to sleep in a hotel. When you awaken with bed bugs on you in a hotel, you never look at a hotel bed again the same way,

    That said, I think 10 mil is nuts. If she were looking for say, $50,000, that would cover a lot of therapy, and be a good payout for distress. And that is probably a factor 10 times too high. Anyone sueing for that kind of money is looking for a lottery win as opposed to justice.

  11. Dragon Tiger says:

    Is she a medical doctor or a PhD, because what the article says are the cause of an allergic reaction sounds more like the symptoms of an allergic reaction. That, and the welts were “all over her body,” and typically bedbugs bite in very specific areas. If she is a medical doctor, there’s no reason for any prolonged use of cortisone and antibiotics without being aware of possible consequences. Sounds like the anxiety is a pre-existing condition.

    However, she did find a bug–the question is then whether it was a bedbug or not. She should have taken pictures (and hopefully, she did).

    • Hi_Hello says:

      yea, those bites mark doesn’t look like bedbug bites. I know through personal experience.
      she should know better about the cortisone.

      If they were bedbug bites, they don’t cause scarring unless you mess with the bite mark. IF she scratch, or pick at the bite mark, that’s her fault.

      Why was she taking antibiotics?

      Anyway, there is no proof that the bedbug came from the hotel. She might have gotten it from a movie theater. If the hotel is proven innocent, they should sue her for bring bad press.

      I’m sure a hotel would have an exterminator on call or something and they can find out if there was a bedbug nest somewhere.

      Oh, you can’t be force to stay in a hotel. I”m paranoid about bedbugs, I avoid hotels. They got motels and campsite, or I just sleep in my car.

      If the hotel does have bedbugs, I don’t think it’s the hotel fault… unless they ask each guest to strip down naked and heat up all their luggage before letting them stay in the hotel.

      Any guest can bring in a bedbug, if a guest get bitten, the previous guest need to be contact to see if they were bitten. You might be able to find the guest who brought it in and can try to sue that guest for 10 million….

      Maybe… maybe if all hotel rooms need to be occupied by the workers, they can tell if there are bedbug or not. Then you have the problem of workers who can be bitten but show no sign…

      This is stupid. It’s like going to a hotel, getting sick because one of the other guest was sick and suing the hotel because you got sick 0-o.

  12. aloria says:

    I would freak out if I got bedbugs. They may not be emotionally devastating to most, but they can be financially devastating if they get into your home. One of my neighbors got bedbugs in his 2 bedroom condo and it cost him upwards of a thousand dollars to get rid of them. That’s not an insignificant amount of money.

  13. Kconafly says:

    The apartment building I lived in had bed bugs. Its took months for them to be eradicated. For over a year afterward I had problems sleeping and anxiety every time I itched for fear that the bed bugs had come back. I was frustrated and angry about this but the landlord did everything they could. This problem isn’t going away for our country, it will get worse and we need to hold hotels, motels and landlords responsible for making a good faith attempt to address the issue. I think the woman’s lawsuit is excessive however, I do know that corporations aren’t going to take this seriously unless they think it will hurt their bottom line. For those who belittle this woman’s experience, just wait you or someone you know will get bedbugs.

    • veritybrown says:

      Being known for having bedbugs is ABSOLUTELY going to hurt any hotel’s bottom line. I doubt very much that most hotels–especially prestigious hotels–are simply ignoring this problem. The reality is that these critters are almost impossible to get rid of. This is especially true in the lodging industry: regardless of how many expensive pest control solutions you apply, your next customer might easily be carrying a brand new infestation in their luggage.

    • Tippady says:

      I hate to say the following sentence since it is so cliche but… Hotel’s are taking this issue seriously. They have policies in place to strip, exterminate and clean rooms that have bedbugs including adjacent and surrounding rooms. What the public needs to realize is that bedbugs are not from unsanitary conditions, people are bringing them in on their person/luggage and infecting every place they go!

  14. stormbird says:

    She was able to afford to stay at the Waldorf-Astoria from the settlement she received in her ‘got-your-nose’ anxiety case against her uncle.

  15. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I’m traumatized and I have never even had them. I scope out every corner when I go to stay somewhere. It freaks me out. My parents got them from a hotel and one of my mom’s bite abscessed. It opened up and she had to pack the wound and spent lots of money treating it. She has a huge scar where it is now.

    I can see how someone could be traumatized, but suing for anything more than extermination, medical bills, and maybe a small inconvenience fee seems excessive. Waldorf has no control over the level of someone’s reaction to an event. It isn’t their fault that bedbugs had such an impact on her. Why should they be held responsible for her emotions, which they have no control over.

  16. Erika'sPowerMinute says:

    Shit happens; deal with it.

    Next!

  17. carlogesualdo says:

    Personally, I’d like to know what steps toward negotiation the person has taken with the WA to try to recover her medical fees and other specific costs before this lawsuit was filed. I’ll willing to guess she made several reasonable attempts, all of which were rebuffed. We just never hear about that part because someone suing for astronomical money over something so trivial as a teeny-tiny bed bug is quite sensational.

    I have been attacked by ants three times in my life. It’s not the bites that do it – it’s the experience. PTSD is VERY real.

  18. tsalaroth says:

    I recently stayed at the W-A Roosevelt in NOLA. Looks like it’s the NYC W-A. Whew.

  19. Snaptastic says:

    People dealt with bedbugs for hundreds of years and didn’t sue anyone for this trauma crap. Be vigilant, check your hotel room/objects and suck it up.

    The main reason bedbugs are spreading nowadays is because people are too stupid/lazy/ignorant to keep an eye out for them. The stupid bugs are the size of apple seeds and are danged near impossible to miss.

  20. Rob says:

    From personal experience, it has been 1-1/2 years since I finally got rid of my bed bug infestation.
    I still store my clothing in plastic bags.
    I was more terrified of staying in a hotel in Las Vegas last month than flying there.
    Every new mark on my body is examined to be sure it is not a bed bug bite.
    The majority of my possessions that I took with me from the infested apartment are still sealed up in plastic bags and a taped up plastic tote. Every time I have to reach into one to retrieve something, I scratch for hours. Any that may have been in them should be dead by now but I don’t want to chance it yet.
    I still have vivid dreams of bed bugs from time to time.
    I haven’t gone to a movie theater since. Other than the expense, they are the perfect habitat for bed bugs (dark, plenty of places to hide and a continual supply of food sources).
    PTSD from bed bugs is very real.

  21. EverCynicalTHX says:

    Legal reform is needed..but it will never happen with all the congress critters being lawyers unfortunately.

  22. PortlandBeavers says:

    Anytime the damage is totally self-reported, I would have trouble awarding them anything. But the plaintiff has a shot if the suit is in New York. Juries don’t have that Midwestern skepticism there.

  23. Jack'sPumpkinQueen says:

    Bedbugs are traumatic… my neighbor downstairs had an infestation once, because of furniture she would find on the street and bring into her place. It ended up spreading to my apartment. I am very sensitive to bug bites so I had lumps the size of golf balls on my legs and arms for months. I had 3 hospital visits because the itching was unbearable and the reaction my body went through was horrible. My neighbor refused to admit it was her fault even though the exterminator saw the infestation with his own eyes. The last straw was when I got bitten right by left eye and it looked like someone had hit me in the face with a hammer… did I mention that bed bugs usually bite you 3 times?! 3 TIMES!! I got my apartment heat-treated, sprayed, ripped out the carpet, installed flooring at my own cost, and all of my bedroom furniture went into the trash.

    Needless to say, I shake out all of my bedsheets, check the mattress, and change my pillow case every single night. I am traumatized… and will be so for the rest of my life. But, I’m not going to sue my apartment manager… it’s not like I’d end up with much anyway.

    If I could, I’d sleep with one eye open…. it’s horrible…. horrible.