Couple sues Cockeysville complex over bedbugs

Complaint claims the apartment was previously infested

November 04, 2010|By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

A Severn couple filed a lawsuit Thursday against a Cockeysville apartment complex for $2 million, contending that the owners and management did not eradicate a previously known bedbug infestation.

The former tenants, Michael Silverman and Amanda Weaver, moved into their two-bedroom Steeplechase Apartment on Stag Horn Court in March. They noticed "several small bugs" the day they moved in but did not think anything of it, the complaint says. But after three days in the apartment, the couple began to experience small, itchy bumps and later realized that the apartment was infested with bedbugs.

"This is unusual in that this young couple moved in without knowing of the entrenched infestation," said the couple's attorney, Daniel W. Whitney. "They were stuck in bedbug hell" for about a month before moving out, he said.

Whitney filed another lawsuit September in Baltimore County Circuit Court for $100,000 alleging a bedbug infestation at the Briarcliff Apartments East complex less than a mile away. Gebhardt Management Inc., which manages the complex, denied the claims.

Star/Hirsch Steeplechase LLC, Hirschfeld Management Inc. and Hirschfeld Properties LLC, named as defendants in the suit against the Steeplchase Apartments, declined to comment Thursday evening.

After the couple first contacted the rental office, a Terminix exterminator treated the apartment, where a large number of bedbugs were found on the curtains, in the carpet and the dresser, and "a large number of bedbug eggs were also found in the frame of the Plaintiffs' box spring. The exterminator stated that the presence of so many mature bedbugs in the apartment was indicative of a long-term problem in the Apartment," the complaint said.

After washing and freezing their clothes, taping up their mattress, discarding much of their furniture, and two treatments by the exterminator, the couple continued to find live bugs, the complaint said.

Weaver "continued to have allergic reactions to bites, resulting in red, extremely itchy, swollen welts all over her body including her arms, legs and ear," the complaint said, as well as "disfigurement from the bedbug bites."

Two weeks after the couple moved in, Silverman wrote to the complex complaining of the "deplorable conditions" and requested compensation, but the request was denied. The complex offered them another two-bedroom apartment, but the couple moved out the first week in April.

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