Former residents of an apartment building in Hyattsville, Maryland, say they were forced out of their homes by bedbugs -- and they want the ex-building owner to pay them $20 million.
Ethel Stokes, an 87-year-old former resident of the Kings Park Plaza Apartments, said she slept in a chair for six weeks after bedbugs took over her bed.
"Our legs and feet were swollen. Her chest and the back of her neck was all bit up," her daughter Tonya Stokes, another ex-resident, said.
A maintenance man told residents of the building at 2600 Queens Chapel Road that the apartments themselves were infested, not just the furniture.
"He said, 'I’m sorry to tell you this, but the bedbug problem is underneath you," Tonya Stokes said.
Ex-tenants said the building owner during the 2012 infestation, Berkshire Property Advisors (the building has a different owner now), removed furniture, but the apartments were still crawling with bugs.
"Everything was totally infested," said former tenant Deborah McDaniel, who is one of several plaintiffs in a $20 million lawsuit filed in Prince George’s County Court.
She said the sum is a lot to ask, but she thinks the residents deserve it.
"It’s not the point of what we’re going to get, it’s the point of everyone knowing what was done to us," McDaniel said.
She said she has evidence from exterminators that treated the building that bedbugs had been discovered there two years before she moved in.
Current residents of Kings Park Plaza Apartments told News4 they have not had any problems with the bugs. A representative of Berkshire Property Advisors declined to comment on the lawsuit but said the company has a strict policy for responding to reports of bedbugs.
As Ethel Stokes left her former home, she said she prayed for bedbugs to leave her alone.
"I asked the Lord, all of these nice little creeping bugs, turn them out another way," she said.