After Bedbugs So Bad Their Boy Is Scarred, Family Gets $1.6M

Scratching left toddler son permanently marked
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2018 3:34 AM CDT
Family Gets Record Award in Bedbug Lawsuit
"What happens when people are exposed to bedbugs is there's a lot of anxiety and sleeplessness," says lawyer Brian Varig.   (AP Photo/Orkin LLC, File)

The company that owns an apartment complex where a bedbug infestation left a 3-year-old boy scarred has been ordered to pay his family almost $1.6 million. Mother Lilliana Martinez says that in 2012, two years after the family moved into the complex in Inglewood, Calif., they found son Jorge Maravilla had red spots all over his face and body, the New York Times reports. "Just seeing how he would scratch all the time and nothing would heal because it would start bleeding again," she tells NBC Los Angeles. "It was very emotional, very stressful." When a doctor diagnosed bedbug bites and they complained to the management company, they were told to throw out all their furniture. They vacuumed a small place to sleep on the floor after a fumigation left the apartment covered in white powder.

But even after the fumigation, the family, including Jorge's 3-month-old baby sister, kept getting bitten for four months until the carpeting in the apartment was removed after repeated complaints to management, ending the worst of the infestation. After moving out in 2014, they sued ownership company Amusement Six Apartments for breach of warranty of habitability, negligence, and emotional distress, accusing them of renting an apartment in "slum-like conditions," where other problems included a cockroach infestation. The $1,593,500 a civil jury awarded the family this week is believed to be a record for a single-family bedbug lawsuit. The parents say part of the money will be used to try to remove some of the scars the scratching left on Jorge's arms, legs, and torso. (Researchers say bedbugs prefer certain colors.)

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