A jury in Annapolis, Maryland awarded a tenant $800,000 in damages after she moved into an apartment infested with bedbugs.
According to a news report, the jury took just 45 minutes to deliberate, and handed down a verdict for twice what the tenant had asked for, according to the report.
The tenant alleged that the landlord knew about the infestation before he rented out the apartment. The report states that a previous tenant had complained about bedbugs. It appears that the landlord attempted to eradicate the bugs himself, but failed. According to allegations, the landlord placed some of the tenant’s personal items outside after she moved from the apartment.
Based on those allegations, the jury awarded a portion of the compensation for the lost possessions. However, the bulk of the monetary award was punitive damages. Punitive damages awards present a problem for landlords because these damages are generally awarded for intentional or reckless behavior, and it is not always clear whether an insurance carrier is obligated to cover the loss.
Whitney & Bogris, LLP, the law firm that represented the tenant in this case, has been successful in other recent bedbug cases, including winning a $40,000 verdict for a Baltimore City tenant.
A jury award this large may signal an upward trend.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.