Spring Valley Woman Sues for $7 Million in Hotel Bed Bug Attack
Thursday, January 10, 2013
WHITE PLAINS - Saying she was traumatized after suffering 25
bedbug bites in the fall at a Holiday Inn in North Carolina, a
Spring Valley woman has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against
the company that operates the hotel chain.
Yvonne Rollins, 56, is suing InterContinental Hotels Group, seeking
more than $7 million, alleging negligence, intentional infliction
of emotional distress and breach of contract.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in White Plains,
Rollins says that the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites in
Laurinburg, N.C., had a duty to provide her a "vermin-free" room
during her two-night stay in October as she visited the area for a
According to the suit, Rollins awoke to her cell phone ringing on
Oct. 19, turned on a light and saw "something run across her
pillow." That's when she noticed welts on her left wrist, arm, and
hand, as well as a "huge hickey" on her forehead.
When she pulled back the seam of the pillow case, "hundreds of
bedbugs scurried out," the suit says. Rollins, who was staying in
the room with her aunt, screamed and ran to tell a man working at
the front desk, who agreed to check it out.
"Yeah they're bugs all right," he told her, scooping them into a
cup and photographing them, as he planned to take them to a
manager. With no other rooms available, he offered Rollins sheets
to change the bed, but she declined, staying on the second-floor
with a relative.
"This isn't a case about whether the hotel exterminated," Alice T.
Crowe, a lawyer for Rollins, said today. "This is a case about a
hotel's failing housekeeping practices."
Rollins, who sought medical attention after the attack and was
prescribed medication to treat anxiety, also suffered a "persistent
nervous cough" because of the episode, the lawsuit filing says,
adding that doctors also told her that her condition might
compromise her recovery from breast cancer, since bedbugs are known
to carry some pathogens.
"It becomes a concern to know that," Crowe said.
Bennett Gershman, a law professor at Pace University, said when
contacted by The Journal News/LoHud.com that such suits are usually
about negotiating a settlement, rather than hoping to collect full
damages - in this case more than $7 million.
But Crowe bristled at any such suggestion.
"What price would you put on someone's dignity?" Crowe said.
Rollins, who works part time as a nurse, said in an interview today
that she has mostly recovered from the incident.
"I'm hanging in there," she said. "It happened in October so most
of that has worn off, the effects."
Rollins filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2000 but said her
financial affairs are in order and the lawsuit isn't about
Officials at InterContinental Hotels Group could not immediately be
reached for comment.