CALGARY – An Edmonton man who suffered bed bug bites while visiting the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in May 2019 is being compensated for his loss of income and psychological treatment.
In a ruling announced on March 12, Justice SL Corbett ruled against the hotel operators and awarded Edmonton attorney Omar Abdulhak a total of $ 23,875 in damages.
Abdulhak stayed at the Lake Louise Hotel for three nights in early May 2019 to hold a conference. He says he woke up after the first night and found numerous spots that itched on his stomach, chest, neck and face. At this point, the hotel guest did not know the cause of the stains and the pain, which felt like mosquito bites, increased throughout his stay.
Upon returning to Edmonton, Abdulhak notified the hotel of his concerns about a bed bug problem. A hotel worker returned the call, stating that an inspection of the room had been completed by Ecolab, a company that operates the hotel, and a report of the bed bug inspection was negative. The hotel offered to heat treat and dry clean its belongings as a gesture of goodwill.
Due to the negative test, the room remained operational. In the two weeks after Abdulhak’s departure, there were six separate hotel stays in the room.
A visit to his family doctor confirmed that the marks on Abdulhak’s body were bed bug bites.
In court, a representative from Chateau Lake Louise confirmed that bed bugs are a reality in the hospitality industry and that there has been a history of bed bug activity in hotel rooms and staff residences. He added that staff are trained in a company standard for handling bed bugs.
The cleaner who cleaned the room prior to Abdulhak’s stay could not remember cleaning that particular room, and her description of her training for the position did not mention any standard bed bug practice. After the attendant had cleaned the room, an inspection was carried out by another employee.
In their ruling, the judiciary found that the hotel had violated the standard of care by not providing its staff with adequate instructions on how to identify signs of bed bug activity. The hotel’s behavior was deemed negligent and resulted in an unreasonable risk of damage.
Abdulhak’s compensation includes $ 15,000 for general damages and $ 8,475 for lost income in the weeks following his hotel stay, as well as time withdrawn in September 2019 after treatment for mental symptoms.