Judge Nancy H. Vaidik | IN.gov
INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) – A Michigan City, Indiana, hotel guest didn’t offer sufficient evidence that proved the hotel’s negligence led to bed bugs in his room, the Court of Appeals of Indiana decided Aug. 29.
The court determined plaintiff Maurice Johnson didn’t bring enough proof that the bed bugs were a direct result of Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa’s alleged negligence. It affirmed the LaPorte Superior Court’s decision.
Johnson said he suffered bed bug bites during his 2017 stay at Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa. He sued Blue Chip Casino LLC and the trial court ruled for Blue Chip. Johnson appealed, saying the idea of res ipsa loquitur (an accidental incident suggests negligence) is relevant to this case.
The appeals court pointed out Johnson alleged that the room wouldn’t have had bed bugs if the housekeepers fully cleaned and inspected the room. Still, the court argued that “because of the hidden nature of bed bugs, it is entirely possible that a more-thorough cleaning and inspection would not have discovered or eliminated the bed bugs.”
The appeals court also added that Indiana premises-liability law says that an invitee to a venue is entitled to the highest responsibility of care from the owner. Still, it pointed out the invitor, in this case Blue Chip, isn’t the overseer of an invitee’s safety.
It would first have to know about any danger before it is given this responsibility. In this case, Blue Chip didn’t know about the bed bugs until the guest reported it.
The appeals court ended the opinion by stating that Blue Chip had bed bug policies and followed them. The suit states that before Johnson's stay, bed bugs were found in the same room in 2016. At that time, the room was inspected and treated, and was blocked off for about a week. The hotel didn’t get word of any other issues concerning the bed bugs until Johnson’s complaint.
Judge Nancy H. Vaidik authored the opinion.