MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — A South Carolina attorney who specializes in bed bug cases said Myrtle Beach accounts for 80% of his statewide business.
Colombia-based attorney Trevor Eddy said bed bug lawsuits fell into his lap when he opened his practice in 2018. In the past year, his active case count has almost tripled to 120.
“We’re actually signing them faster than we can close cases, honestly,” Eddy said.
What started with him and one assistant has grown to five full-time employees in the past year. Most of the law firm’s cases involve alleged bed bug bites.
“This is a massive handicap to one of our largest industries in the state of South Carolina,” Eddy said. “Tourism is huge here and I hate that we’re starting to build a bed bug reputation because it’s bad for business. This is bad for the local economy.”
Kira Hudson is one of hundreds of bed bug clients represented by Eddy’s company. Hudson was on vacation in Myrtle Beach in November 2021 when she claims to have been bitten by bed bugs more than 350 times.
“It just felt like knives were coming out of my face,” Hudson said.
Hudson resided in a short-term rented condo at Oceans One Resort in Myrtle Beach. She was moved to another room but said her holiday was ruined anyway as bite marks covered her body from head to toe.
“I was in a car accident,” Hudson said. “I’ve had several things in my life, and this was by far the most painful.”
Hudson is allergic to bed bug bites and said she was forced to go to an emergency room for treatment for the pain and swelling while she was still on vacation. She said the pain eventually lasted for two weeks.
Hudson and Eddy filed a lawsuit against the resort and the condo owner based on $400 in medical bills, which Hudson said was not reimbursed as promised.
“I just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone because the pain was just remarkable,” Hudson said.
Eddy said a growing portion of his cases involve short-term rentals like Airbnbs and condos on vacation rental site Vrbo. He said the quality of care and maintenance of these rental properties varies widely.
“This is a big problem because these Silicon Valley companies just run these websites,” Eddy said. “They inspect, manage — don’t do pest control, don’t do cleaning for these units. That is left to the individual owners.”
Eddy estimates that 15% of current cases are against short-term rentals, rather than hotels, motels, and resorts. He added that the South Carolina industry needed more oversight and suggested a government-run online database with a ranking and full list of bed bug complaints similar to guidelines restaurants must follow.
Eddy said he hopes his lawsuits will draw industry attention and force change.
“I believe that over time, these hotels will start to implement better policies or take the policies that they already have on paper and better enforce those policies,” Eddy said.
A proposed South Carolina bill would have required notification of bed bug infestations, or owners and landlords could face fines or even jail time. The bill died in committee.
Oceans One Resort told News13 on Friday that although the resort is named in the lawsuit, the person who owns the condo is responsible for cleaning and maintenance.
“We had nothing to do with that person,” said Ray Booth, general manager of Oceans One Resort. “We didn’t accept the reservation. We don’t get any money from her, and we don’t even check her in.”
Booth apologized for the poor experience, adding that the rooms the resort is responsible for are proactively sprayed quarterly and routine kill sprays are performed monthly.