A Louisiana couple who visited Walt Disney World last year is suing Disney, claiming a bedbug infestation in their hotel followed them back home.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, first filed in August and transferred to a federal court in Orlando this week, are Ashley and Robert LaCombe.
According to the suit, the LaCombes and their son began feeling “experienced significant skin irritation” during their April 2018 stay at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, one of Disney’s lowest-priced hotels. The suit claims that they returned home, the hotel confirmed bedbugs were in their room.
As is often the case with bedbugs, the suit says the blood-sucking pests made their way into their luggage and then infested the LaCombes’ home in Louisiana.
“The LaCombes experienced and continue to experience additional mental anguish and stress as they cannot not enjoy their home,” the suit states. “Family members and friends cannot visit due to the risk of acquiring the bedbug infestation.”
The lawsuit goes on to state the exterminators haven’t been entirely effective, despite the family throwing out some furniture and temporarily vacating the home.
The stress affected their work and negatively impacted their son, who has autism, according to the suit, which said he has “experienced significant regression” due to the infestation.
The Professional Pest Management Alliance states hotels are one of the most common places to encounter bedbugs. They’re also very hard to get rid of; adult bugs can live close more than 500 days without feeding, and a 2017 study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology found the tiny bugs have become resistant to certain pesticides.
Despite a nationwide rise in bedbug infestations and the Orlando region’s plethora of hotels, the area has actually seen in decline in bedbug activity relative to other cities. Pest control company Orkin’s annual list of the top 50 bedbug cities did not include Orlando in 2019. It was ranked at No. 44 the year prior.
Hotel operators like Disney have plenty of reasons to keep bedbugs out. An Orkin study released in 2017 said hotels spend an average of more than $6,300 per infestation — with that number rising to $23,000 when accounting for the cost of litigation.
The LaCombes are seeking $75,000 in damages. Disney did not respond to a request for comment on the suit, but it’s not the first time they’ve faced this type of complaint. A New York couple sued in 2017 over an alleged infestation at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, and a 2018 suit involved similar complaints from a guest at the Disneyland Hotel in California.
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