A group of residents at Los Angeles’ Park La Brea Apartments won a hefty settlement over a bedbug infestation.
Sixteen former and current tenants at La Brea were awarded $3.5 million by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge late Friday afternoon.
La Brea Apartments is, according to The LA Times, among the largest housing complexes in the city. Situated in the Miracle Mile District, the property contains over 4,000 separate flats.
Each of the plaintiffs had resided at La Brea between 2011 and 2013. According to attorney Brian Virag, who represented the renters, apartment management knew about the bedbug problem since at least 2008.
Nevertheless, nobody living in the affected apartments was informed about the mite-sized pests before or after signing a lease.
“They failed to warn any of the tenants of the original problem,” said Virag. “It was mostly won over the sleeplessness, the anxiety and humiliation they endured at work.”
The purportedly profound distress caused to the plaintiffs is reflected in the settlement and its details. Altogether, the residents only paid abut $2,200 to treat their bedbug bites – yet the award, determined by a jury, serves as recompense for psychological suffering.
The tenants who participated in the suit will be given between $44,000 and $580,000 each.
Back in January, pest-control company Orkin compiled a list of the worst cities for bedbugs in the United States.
Los Angeles currently occupies the sixth-ranking slot, having fallen down from second place last year.
Despite advertising itself as a semi-luxury complex, La Brea’s bedbug problems probably wouldn’t come as surprise to its other occupants. For the past several years, La Brea’s reputation has slid steadily downhill, with tenants complaining of poor management and unhygienic living conditions.
Personal assistant Ilene Waterstone, who moved to La Brea in the 1990s, told The LA Weekly that she fell in love with her new apartment shortly after moving in. But, about two years ago, things took a turn for the worse.
Elevators in her high-rise building repeatedly broke down, forcing the 64-year old woman to take the stairs to her eighth-story apartment.
Rats, cockroaches, and other insects began occupying vacant corners of rental units. One woman, who wrote a review on Yelp, said returned home from work late one evening to find “hundreds” of cockroaches scuttling across her floor.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s overpriced projects now,” said Waterstone in 2015. “The motto of Park La Brea should be, ‘We don’t give a shit.’”
Management at La Brea has promised to amend some of the problems which have plagued residents since 2013 – from the broken elevators to cockroach infestations and a small plague of bedbugs.