Janie McFarland and her church group simply wanted to have a peaceful time in Virginia, worshiping at church services and forging connections with other Christians. McFarland and her group from New York checked into a Super 8 motel in Albermarle County on September 13, 2014. She woke up the next morning to a horrifying sight.
She had “over 40” bites from bed bugs. When she inspected the pillow she had used, she saw spots of blood, a sight those who have suffered through bed bug infestations know all too well. This lead her to inspect the rest of the bed. According to her lawsuit, the bed was covered in bed bugs. She notified hotel management, who she claims were less than cooperative.
“They were like we don’t know what you’re talking about, we didn’t find any bed bugs, everything is fine,” said McFarland. She claims that the mental and physical trauma, including an allergic reaction to the bites, convinced her to file suit. The alleged callous attitude of the hotel management was another factor. “Other people have probably complained and they didn’t do anything about it,” she said.
The hotel’s owners, Chaxu Incorporated, filed dozens of pages of insect inspection reports as evidence in their favor. A judge, however, recently agreed with McFarland’s claim that these reports do not pertain to bed bugs. Instead, they pertain to ants and other common insects. This ruling allowed the case to move forward.
The next step in the case is a jury trial. The trial is scheduled to last for two days. It will start on July 20th in Charlottesville. The jury will decide if the hotel is liable, and if so, how much they are liable for. The jury’s verdict may be appealed, which is commonplace in lawsuits asking for millions of dollars.