After a tenant filed a lawsuit claiming a bedbug infestation in her home caused her to lose “practically everything,” a Maryland court ordered her former landlord to fork over $800,000.
Faika Shaaban, 69, claimed in her suit that the landlord, Cornelius J. Barrett and West Street Partnership, knew about the bedbug infestation rampant in her apartment prior to her moving in. Shaaban suffered hundreds of bites and lesions as a result of the infestation.
Shaaban lived in the apartment for more than eight months, but ended up being evicted. When she was being forced to move out, her things were put outside on the curb and stolen, despite a sign she had left asking that people not take them.
According to housing law experts, the amount awarded to Shaaban is one of the largest in this sort of lawsuit. It was double the amount she asked for.
The Daily Mail reported $650,000 of the $800,000 awarded to Shaaban was given as punitive damages. Those type of damages are awarded in order to dissuade defendants in a civil case from engaging in similar behaviors in the future.
Shaaban’s attorney, Daniel Whitney, expects an increase in lawsuits against landlords over bedbug problems. Whitney currently has 75 clients who have filed lawsuits against their landlords because of bedbug infestations. According to Whitney, the ruling was the jury's “opportunity to send a message to the community, to landlords, that you must abate it.”
Alabama-based attorney, Tom Campbell, seems to agree with Whitney stating: “You are going to see a rapid growth of bedbug claims over the next decade. There are enough lawyers who are getting trained so that people will be able to find lawyers, so that people will find a way to get relief.”