Bedbug Victims Start Fighting Back Without Shame

Susanne Igneri, who says that begbugs from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City infested her home.
CBS
Susanne Igneri believes her bedbug nightmare started after her family stayed at New York's world-famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel. She says her daughter slept on a cot and woke up covered in bites, reports CBS News national correspondent Jim Axelrod.

"The following day I called up the pediatrician and took her over to his office. He said these are bedbug bites," Igneri said. "He knew immediately."

The Igneris think the bed bugs traveled home with them because their house became infested. They had to throw away furniture, clothing and toys. But the Igneris weren't embarrassed about having bedbugs - they were furious.

"I'm very angry that I thought I was going to this safe place and I ended up this in situation," Igneri said.

The Igneris are suing the hotel for $13,000 in property damages, plus pain and suffering.

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The Waldorf Astoria told CBS News that after the family complained, their room was inspected by an exterminator who found no evidence of bedbugs.

"The bed bugs were in a cot," said Donald Kiley, the Igneris' lawyer. "As far as I know when my client went out, the cot went out the door, too."

So far there have been multiple bedbug lawsuits filed again the Waldorf - certainly not good as the holiday tourist season approaches.

Bedbugs are now showing up in all 50 states. And since 2006, the cost of fighting them has more than doubled, topping $250 million.

On Thursday, another family sued the Waldorf, also blaming their bedbugs on the hotel.

Bedbugs have put businesses on edge. A moving company in the Bronx takes every precaution to kill these critters which could spread among customers.

In between moves, the crews of iMoveGREEN heat the inside of the trucks to 120 degrees, spray down the dollies and certify their vehicles have been checked by bedbug-sniffing dogs.

"I'm not going to take a chance," said Jeffrey Sitt, the president of iMoveGREEN.

The problem is the bugs have become resistant to many pesticides. They can live for a year - and up to six months without food - your blood. Females can lay hundreds of eggs at a time. In the war on bedbugs, man is outnumbered.

"It's going to get to warehouses. It's going to get to other trucks. It's going to continue in other industries as well. It's going to happen - it's logic," Sitt said.

In the age of bedbugs, businesses are afraid customers will bite back.

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.