California family whose son was scarred by bed bugs wins $1.6 million

Article originally sourced from NY Times

By MEGAN CERULLO written on April, 5, 2018

"A California family has won a $1.6 million settlement after their son was "marked for life" by bed bugs.

The sum is the largest ever to be awarded to a single family in a bed bug case in the United States, the family's lawyer told The New York Times.

The boy's mother, Lilliana Martinez, 34, said the infestation — which left her son permanently scarred — began in 2012, after the family had been living in their Inglewood, Calif., home for two years.

Jorge Maravilla, 3, developed red spots all over his body and face, Martinez said.

Martinez's daughter, who was 3 months old at the time, was also bitten.

A civil jury ordered the owner of the family's former apartment — Amusement Six Apartments — to pay the family $1,593,500, The New York Times reported.

"I really think it's important to give a voice to those who don't have a voice or who can't stand up for justice on their own," the family's lawyer, Brian Virag told the Times.

Martinez said she reported the insect problem to her management company, which instructed her to throw away their furniture, including the baby's crib.

The apartment was fumigated, which left it covered in white powder, she said.

"All we could do is just vacuum a little place on the floor," Martinez said.

All four family members slept in that spot, she said.

Their living conditions were so dire that she contemplated leaving, but "didn't have anywhere else to go," she said.

They lived with the bed bugs for nearly four months before the management company removed the apartment's carpeting, putting an end to the infestation.

The family left their home in 2014 — the same year they sued Amusement Six Apartments for breach of warranty of habitability, emotional distress, negligence, breach of contract and other charges, the Times reported.

The family alleges they were subjected to "slum-type living conditions" causing them to suffer discomfort, sleeplessness and emotional distress, court documents show.

Jorge, now 8, was most affected by the bugs — and still has scars from constantly scratching his bites.

Martinez hopes that they can use part of the settlement to mitigate the scarring.

She said the jury's verdict came as" "a great relief."

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