After spending more than eight months in a bedbug-infested apartment, Faika Shaaban received the compensation for the hundreds of bites she endured while her landlord did nothing to remove the parasitic insects.
An Anne Arundel County jury in Maryland awarded Shaaban $800,000 in punitive damages – one of the highest amounts known in a bedbug case, the Baltimore Sun reports. The award was twice the amount the 69-year-old woman asked for.
“She’s still trying to process this,” Shaaban’s attorney, Daniel Whitney, told the Capital Gazette. “She’s very thankful for having her day in court.”
Shaaban said she knew something was wrong after moving into an Annapolis apartment in fall 2011. Over time, she started itching, bumps spread and scabs developed all over her body. She notified her landlord, Cornelius J. Barrett, who told the woman he had no idea what could be causing the bites. In reality, Barrett knew that the black shutters in the converted apartment building were infested with bedbugs, according to several media accounts.
In April 2012, Shaaban went to an Anne Arundel County office looking for help in getting another apartment. A county employee took a look at Shaaban’s legions and told her they were bedbug bites.
Shaaban conferred with other residents and the building’s superintendent – all knew of the infestation but nothing was apparently done to remedy the situation. This wasn’t the landlord’s first brush with the law. In 2010, court records show a $344,917 judgment was issued against Barrett by CFG Community Bank. He's listed as a defendant in other dismissed cases, the Capital Gazette reports.
One of the highest-record settlements for a bedbug infestation was reached by a trial jury in 2002. A brother and sister were awarded $382,000 after staying in a Motel 6 in Chicago that was full of bedbugs.