A tenant has been awarded $800,000 in damages after suing her landlord for renting her a bedbug-infested apartment in Annapolis, Md. — apparently a record sum in such a case. Faika Shaaban, 69, had lost “practically everything” in an infestation that left her with “hundreds” of bites and lesions, her attorney contended.
Shaaban said that property owner Cornelius J. Barrett and the West Street Partnership were fully aware of the bedbug infestation weeks before she’d moved in, The Baltimore Sun reported. Shaaban’s lawsuit further alleged that Barrett and the West Street Partnership completely ignored complaints from other tenants before allowing her to move in. Furthermore, Barrett’s efforts to to deal with the bedbugs only worsened the infestation and damaged Shaaban’s personal property, according to her attorney. Barrett evicted Shaaban at one point, the Capital Gazette in Annapolis reported, among other “retaliatory measures” — and when Shaaban’s bedbug-infested possessions were put out on the street by the landlord in her absence, many of them were soon taken by unsuspecting scavengers.
The jury in Anne Arundel County took just 15 minutes to reach a decision on the lawsuit, and the award was twice what Shaaban had sought, the Gazette said. The payout reportedly was the highest that lawyers had seen in such cases. (In 2002, a jury awarded $382,000 to a brother and sister who said they were attacked by bedbugs at a Chicago motel.)
Shaaban’s case joins a slew of other cases of tenants suing their landlords over bedbug infestations. Concerns about bedbugs have heightened so dramatically over the past few years that a law in New York state was enacted to force landlords to disclose to potential tenants whether bedbugs have been reported in a rental apartment or anywhere in a building.