Case details

Tenants introduced bed bugs when they moved in: defense





Result type

Not present

emotional distress, mental, psychological
In October 2011, plaintiff Maria Delgado, 52, a part-time paralegal, along with her son, plaintiff Christian Delgado, 15, and boyfriend, plaintiff Jesus Rezarea, 56, an auto-shop clerk, moved into a 12-unit apartment building in Santa Monica. The tenants claimed that immediately after moving in, they were subjected to, and bitten by, bed bugs in the apartment, causing them physical and emotional . Ms. Delgado, acting individually and as Christian’s guardian ad litem, and Rezarea, acting individually, sued the owners of the apartment building, Igal Yungman and Dorothy Yungman. The plaintiffs alleged that the Yungmans failed to properly repair or maintain the apartment’s condition, and failed to warn them of the bed bug condition. They also alleged that the Yungmans’ actions constituted a nuisance, a breach of contract, a retaliatory eviction, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a breach of the implied warranty of habitability. At the beginning of trial, the plaintiffs dismissed their causes of action for breach of contract and retaliatory eviction. At the close of the plaintiffs’ evidence, the court granted the defendants’ motion for non-suit as to the causes of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of the implied warranty of habitability. Thus, the matter continued on the nuisance and premises liability claims only. Ms. Delgado, Christian and Rezarea claimed the bed bugs were present in the apartment before they moved into it in October 2011. They also claimed the Yungmans failed to warn them of the bed bug condition and/or conduct proper inspection that would have revealed the bed bugs. They further claimed that the Yungmans refused to sign a contract with Terminix, forcing them to contact the company, and that the Yungmans only took over the pest control when a neighboring tenant complained of having bed bugs. Defense counsel contended that there were no prior incidents of bed bugs in any of the building’s apartment units. Counsel called the unit’s prior tenant and the tenants who resided on either side of the subject apartment unit as witnesses, and they all testified that they never had bed bugs. Defense counsel also called the vendors who painted the apartment and replaced the carpet before the plaintiffs moved in, and they also testified that they did not see any bed bugs. Thus, defense counsel argued that the plaintiffs introduced the bed bugs when they moved into the apartment., On Oct. 11, 2011, Ms. Delgado and her son, Christian, went to an emergency room to treat for bed bug bites. Christian had an allergic reaction that caused his eye to become swollen shut. Rezarea treated with a dermatologist for bed bug bites twice, once in November 2011 and again in January 2014. He claimed he still has spots/scars from the bug bites, as well as hyperpigmentation, which he showed the jury at trial. Rezarea claimed that as a result, he will have to continue treating with a special ointment. The plaintiffs all claimed severe emotional distress from the ordeal, and Christian had to miss a week of school. Thus, the plaintiffs asked the jury for $2.3 million in total damages, which consisted of under $3,000 in special damages and the remaining for their pain and suffering. Defense counsel argued that Ms. Delgado and Christian had fully resolved from their bite . Counsel also argued that Rezarea failed to mitigate his damages by missing a two-week follow-up appointment in November 2011, and then not treating again until January 2014. Defense counsel further argued that Rezarea worsened his scars by excessive scratching.
Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Pasadena, CA

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