PHILADELPHIA – A Maryland attorney believes a Hampton Inn located in Center City Philadelphia was negligent in allowing bed bugs to infest the hotel and bite her while she slept, causing her serious injury.

Nikiwe Mkwanazi of Bethesda, Md. filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on July 3 against Hersha Hospitality Management, LP (doing business as “Hampton Inn”) of Philadelphia.

“On July 27, 2015, Ms. Mkwanazi traveled to Philadelphia, PA to take the Pennsylvania bar exam and checked into room 925 at the hotel. At or about 10:30 p.m. the following evening Ms. Mkwanazi went to sleep in room 925. About an hour later she started itching profusely like she was having an allergic reaction to something. Ms. Mkwanazi walked into the bathroom and saw that there were bumps on her arm, but they did not look like bumps from an allergic reaction. Ms. Mkwanazi noticed that the bumps were large and inflamed and that she might have been bitten by something,” the lawsuit states.

“Ms. Mkwanazi called the front desk and spoke to a receptionist named Derrick (the ‘receptionist’) and asked him for another room. The receptionist met Ms. Mkwanazi on the 9th floor, and when Ms. Mkwanazi showed the receptionist the bumps on her arm the receptionist informed her that her new room would be room 717 on the 7th floor. When they got to the 7th floor the receptionist gave Ms. Mkwanazi the keycard to room 717, apologized for the ‘bedbugs’, and gave her a complimentary plastic bag with snacks inside. Ms. Mkwanazi did not sleep at all that night because she was under extreme annoyance, inconvenience and stress. She could not get over the idea that she was probably attacked by bed bugs in room 925, and the thought of getting attacked again in room 717 was worrisome,” the lawsuit adds.

Mkwanazi filed an incident report, checked out of the hotel and asked the hotel to store her suitcase because she had to take the bar exam in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The plaintiff says she suffered inconvenience and economic loss for seeking medical treatment and needing to discard her property that day.

“When Ms. Mkwanazi returned to the hotel to get her suitcase, she asked to speak to the manager about her incident report. The assistant manager, Mr. Christopher Thompson, informed Ms. Mkwanazi that he called a pest inspector, bugs were not found in room 925, and the hotel doesn't have bedbugs. Ms. Mkwanazi found this hard to believe because the receptionist had apologized for the bed bugs the previous evening. Ms. Mkwanazi asked to see the pest inspector's report that was in the assistant manager's possession, but, he refused to let Ms. Mkwanazi view the report. Later that evening Ms. Mkwanazi sought medical attention and it was confirmed that she was bitten by bed bugs at the hotel. Ms. Mkwanazi discarded the property that she had at the hotel to avoid contaminating her home,” the complaint continued.

Furthermore, the complaint stated: “Ms. Mkwanazi then carried out a search on bedbugregistry.com and found 6 reports from customers who stayed at the hotel stating that they were bitten by bed bugs during their stay at the hotel. Ms. Mkwanazi also searched Tripadvisor.com and found that there were customers who had previously stayed at the hotel and reported to the hotel that they were bitten by bed bugs during their stay at the hotel. Ms. Mkwanazi noticed that the hotel responded to bed bug complaints that were made by the customers. For example, in response to a complaint dated April 14, 2009, management declared that they never had a bedbug issue. And [also did so] in a complaint dated August 7, 2012 where a customer had scooped up bed bugs from his room and showed them to the hotel, management wrote that bugs in the hotel were found to be bed bugs by a pest control company.”

For counts of negligence, res ipsa loquitor, gross negligence and negligence per se,  the plaintiff is seeking damages of $10,100, plus interest, costs, attorney’s fees and any additional relief that the Court may find just, equitable and appropriate, plus a trial by jury in this matter.

The plaintiff is represented by Niki Mkwanazi in Bethesda, Md.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 170700153

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas
1501 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

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