Lawsuit a Cautionary Tale About Renting Furniture

MyFOXHouston.com
Monday, May 21, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - A Houston woman is suing Rent-a-Center over what she describes as a bedbug infestation. She claims the store sold her furniture just covered in the tiny pests that are difficult to get rid of.

The woman rented two couches and a television and when everything was delivered, she said her family immediately started itching like crazy.  They soon discovered one of the pieces of furniture was infested with bedbugs and they were later diagnosed with scabies.

"Right now, to this day, my son is still scared to even be on a couch so for over a year I haven't had any furniture inside of my living room," says Leah Angle.

In August of 2011, Angle, her boyfriend and son had just moved into a new apartment. She rented furniture from the Rent-a-Center off Scott Street in southeast Houston to help make the empty one bedroom unit a little more homey.

But when everything was delivered, they discovered they got a little more than what they paid for.

"The same day when I came home from work my boyfriend complained about itching and I thought it was something that he ate and he lifted up the couch pillows and we saw like mites or bugs or something.  I asked them to come pick the furniture up and they said they would come and spray it with something that was better than raid," says Angle.

That night though there was proof that the problem was not eliminated.

"I recorded on the phone and the bugs instantly started falling off the couch, I laid a red sheet down so you can see it as I was filming it on my phone," says Angle. She called Rent-a-Center back the next day and told them to get the furniture out, which she says they did, but the family's itching only got worse.

"He took the bugs that he had captured from out of the couch before they came to pick it up, and he took it to Ben Taub, they gave him a biohazard bag to put the bugs in and he was diagnosed with scabies," says Angle. She and her 4-year-old son were also diagnosed with scabies.

"My son has asthma so it made him flare up 2 times, my son had nightmares, my boyfriend took a long time to heal, he broke out constantly in welts, hives, blisters.  Personally I felt nasty, I felt dirty.  Aching, dizziness, feverish, nauseated, itching very much so," says Angle.

Because the bedbugs spread throughout the entire apartment, the family was forced to get rid of almost all of their personal belongings. And after she paid for an exterminator to come in, they still did not feel clean and comfortable, so they had to move to another apartment.

After a five-month ordeal, no apology and no help from Rent-a-Center, the dead end road actually led the family to hire a lawyer.

"On Thursday, we had to file a lawsuit in Houston District Court in order to get Rent-a-Center's attention and to acknowledge that this could happen to anyone, not just this family," says attorney Rodney Glover.

Which is the message Leah Angle has for you.

"I'm still hoping that nobody goes through what I went though, not just for me and my family, its for people who rent furniture, come home from work and don't even know that you might not be living comfortably," says Angle.

Employees at the sSoutheast Houston store would not comment on camera.

Calls from FOX 26 News to the corporate office in Plano have not been returned.