A Georgia man has filed a federal lawsuit against the owners of the Courtyard Marriott hotel in east Casper, alleging that he was bitten by bedbugs during a stay there in 2012 and later developed a serious infection to his legs.
The suit was filed in federal court last month by Frank Pascarelli, who works for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he “is acutely aware of diseases and infections,” according to the lawsuit. He filed the suit against Marriott, various South Dakota-based management companies that are linked to the Casper location, and James Koehler, who works for the management companies that bear his last name.
A Marriott spokeswoman directed comment to Koehler and the South Dakota companies. A message left for Koehler’s assistant was not returned Monday. An email to his company, the Koehler Organization, bounced back as undeliverable, and a third message sent via a form on the business’s website was not returned.
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In the lawsuit, Pascarelli alleges that he was staying at the Courtyard Marriott in April 2012 when he woke up to discover “an enormous amount of painful, itchy, burning bites” on his buttocks and right leg. He had taken a shower the night before and had not noticed any such marks, the suit alleges.
Pascarelli eventually sought treatment at an urgent care clinic in Cheyenne, where he was working with a U.S. marshal. According to the lawsuit, he had “approximately 20” “nodules” on his upper legs and buttocks.
He went back to the clinic the next day because the marks were developing into pustules, indicating infection. The bites then grew into lesions, according to the lawsuit, and caused even more pain, while Pascarelli developed a fever.
Back in Atlanta, where the CDC is based, he was admitted to the hospital. Doctors confirmed that he had MRSA, a form of a staph infection that is dangerous because it is resistant to some antibiotics, as well as other issues related to the alleged bites.
The doctor said that the MRSA was “the result of the bed bug attack at (the) hotel during the early morning of April 9, 2012,” the suit alleges.
Pascarelli was a frequent patient of the hospital throughout April and underwent three surgeries to treat the infections. He incurred about $100,000 in debt, the suit alleges. He lost wages from his job at the CDC, the complaint continues, and is at risk of being forced to retire from the Air Force Reserve.
According to the lawsuit, he will need treatment for the MRSA for the rest of his life.
The suit does not list a specific dollar amount that it seeks, though it alleges Pascarelli could lose up to $500,000 in wages as a result of the infections.
“Defendants knew, and/or should have known, that the bed in (Pascarelli’s) hotel room at the (hotel) was infected with bed bugs,” the suit alleges, adding that the hotel and its owners “failed to take reasonable precautions, failed to implement reasonable safety inspections and/or failed to follow their own safety inspections to ensure that the (hotel) was free from insects and pests,” among other allege failures.
In a statement to the Star-Tribune, Pascarelli’s attorney, Jason Ochs, said that “bed buds have been known to be a major health issue in the hospitality industry for over a decade” and that the industry “has a duty to preemptively act in regards to this foreseeable problem in order to protect paying guests.”