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300 apartment residents win $2.45M settlement in class action over bedbugs

Posted Apr 25, 2014 10:00 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Some 300 elderly and disabled residents of two apartment buildings in Des Moines, Iowa, have won an agreement to pay a $2.45 million settlement in a class action over bedbugs.

It provides for each plaintiff to get between $200 and $6,000 over an infestation that created habitability issues, resulting in loss of rent, loss of personal property, painful bites and sleep deprivation, according to the Claims Journal and the Des Moines Register.

"I think this puts landlords on notice that they cannot ignore bedbug issues," said attorney Jeffrey Lipman, who represented the plaintiffs in the case and expects to file another similar lawsuit in Iowa soon. "If they don't take care of it, if they don't warn consumers, they're going to be held accountable."

At issue in the case was whether the landlord, allegedly aware of the bedbug problem, violated the state's consumer protection law by misrepresenting to renters that the buildings were habitable.

Before the settlement is final, it must be approved by a judge, who has scheduled a three-day hearing to listen to any objections, reports the Associated Press.

David Zwickey heads American Baptist Homes of the Midwest, which owned the apartment buildings at the time the suit was filed. He said the organization is satisfied with the settlement over what he described as "a very unfortunate incident."

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