Waldorf-Astoria Faces Another Bedbug Lawsuit

Can guests successfully sue hotels for pest infestations?

ByABC News
January 7, 2011, 4:08 PM

Jan. 10, 2011— -- New York's famed Waldorf-Astoria has been hit with a third lawsuit, accusing the luxury hotel of not doing enough to prevent bedbugs. Unlike other recent suits, the Maryland guest seeking $10 million in damages claims to have been bitten back in August 2007.

The suit by Svetlana Tendler is the latest in a long string of high-profile cases against hotels from guests who say they've had bad experiences with the pests.

There was the $20 million suit in 2006 against a Catskills resort from a couple who said they got 500 bites while staying at the now-closed Nevele Grande Hotel. A few months later came another multi-million suit from a couple who said they got red, itchy welts from the insects after a five-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel in London.

Suing for millions of dollars is one thing; winning the case is something else.

Timothy M. Wenk, a lawyer who defends hotels and apartment landlords from bedbug suits, said the landmark case in the field is Mathias v. Accor Economy Lodging, where a brother and sister were awarded $372,000 in punitive damages.

"I don't think that [large of an amount] would happen today given the notoriety of the bedbugs," Wenk said.

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Hotels have become more proactive about bedbugs, he said, and tend to immediately provide new rooms or refunds to people who experience issues. The "shock value" and stigma of bedbugs has gone away, Wenk said, and with it the large settlements.

"I predict in a few years it will be like being bitten by a mosquito," Wenk said.