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Apartment Bedbug Infestation Lawsuit Results in $1.6M Award For Family Of Bitten, Scarred Toddler

A California jury has awarded a $1.6 million in damages to the family of a three-year old boy who was severely injured and scarred from a multitude of bedbug bites while living in an infested apartment. 

On April 2, Amusement Six Apartments was ordered to pay Lilliana Martinez and her family $1,593,500, including $800,000 specifically to be paid as compensation for her son, Jorge Maravilla Jr., as a result of damages from a bed bug infestation that occurred in their Inglewood apartment complex in 2012.

According to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the family endured the bed bug infestation for more than four months after reporting it to the landlord and having the complex’s management company, Westland Industries, fumigate. They ultimately had to throw out all of their furniture and remove all of their carpeting before the infestation was stopped.

During that time, Maravilla, who was three at the time, was bitten so often by bed bugs that he has permanent scars from constant scratching. The bed bugs also frequently bit Martinez’s three-month-old daughter on her back as she slept.

The bedbug infestation lawsuit pursued claims against Amusement Six Apartments for breach of warranty of habitability, negligence, breach of contract, emotional distress and other damages.

Bed bugs have become increasingly more common in recent years, after being nearly eradicated last century. Scientists and pest control experts say that the bugs have developed a resistance to many of the insecticides which worked in the past to control their numbers and wipe out infestations.

They are particularly virulent in apartment complexes in large cities, where they can spread from one unit to the next and hide in beds and carpeting.

A growing number of bed bug infestation lawsuits have been filed nationwide in recent years, with many reports indicating adverse health reactions and children facing permanent scarring due to the bites and resulting scratching.

In addition to bites, a recent study by North Carolina State University researchers revealed that bed bug droppings can raise histamine levels in infected homes and apartments that persist for months after the infestation has been removed.

The research, published in February in PLoS One, warned that the histamine levels can cause respiratory problems and rashes.

“Histamine levels in bed bug infested homes were at least 20 times higher than histamine levels in homes without bed bugs,” lead researcher Zachery DeVries said in a university press release. “And these levels didn’t decrease much three months after treating the infested homes with heat and insecticides.”

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