Lawyer Files Suit Against Local Hotel Over Bed Bugs
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A California lawyer is suing the Santa Fe Hilton, claiming he got a bad case of bedbugs there the Christmas before last.

Timothy Leach of La Cañada, Calif., says in a complaint in state District Court that he and his wife checked into the Hilton, 100 Sandoval St., on Dec. 19, 2010.

The next day, he and his wife noticed blood spots on their bedsheets, near the headboard, and notified housekeeping and management, according to the complaint filed March 26 by Frank V. Balderrama of Will Ferguson & Associates of Albuquerque.

The complaint says managers agreed bedbugs were in the room, but it does not say if Leach's wife was affected, if the couple was moved to another room or if any measures were taken. For the next four days, it says, lesions caused by bedbug bites appeared on Leach's back, upper shoulders, arms and legs, and by the sixth day, "the intense itching has spread to welts which appeared in areas where there had originally had been no bites."

By Dec. 26, when the Leaches were driving back to California, they stopped at the emergency room of the Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital in Elko, Nev., for treatment, the complaint says. It says the bites didn't heal until Feb. 5, 2011.

The rare bedbug lawsuit seeks damages from the Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza Hotel, the corporation that owns the hotel, and Christopher Beckman, its general manager. Beckman did not return a message asking about the case. A spokeswoman for the hotel's management company declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The "intentional secrecy about known dangers and false advertisements that all rooms at the Hilton ... were safe, comfortable and healthy assured that [the Leaches] would not be expected to discover that they were the likely prey of infestations of Cimex Lecturalis while their defenses were down during the slumber of night and unable to protect themselves," says the "complaint for assault and battery on a business invitee, fraud, breach of unfair practices, negligence, gross negligence and punitive damages."

The 157-room hotel, built in 1971-72, was purchased in 2005 by the Ashford Hospitality Trust of Dallas from businessman Richard Lindberg of Dallas, who had held an interest in the hotel since 1985.