HAMMOND | Lake and Porter County women are suing a Las Vegas resort, claiming they were subjected to a bed bug infestation and asking for $750,000 in damages.
Indiana residents Doris Leaf, Betty Stash, JoAnn Lapko and Barbara Miller met with Beth Tse, of North Carolina, and Sherry Lasser, of Florida, for a girls-only Las Vegas vacation in 2009, according to court records filed Wednesday.
They stayed at the Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort, and after the first night noticed tiny, itchy red bumps popping up over their bodies.
"They didn't really see the bed bugs at first," said the women's Griffith attorney, Robert Taylor. "They started breaking out with these bite marks all over, and started comparing notes."
Bed bugs are tiny, parasitic insects that hide in beds during the day and feed off human blood at night. They are becoming more common with international travel, and unsuspecting people often transport them to hotels, hospitals, homeless shelters and other lodgings with a high turnover rate.
The federal civil suit asks the Monte Carlo and its operator, MGM Resorts International, for $750,000 in damages. It claims the hotel breached its contract and implied warranty after allegedly denying the women "vermin-free" rooms. According to the complaint, the women suffered infections from the hotel's negligent cleaning and inspection practices.
"Our company has not been served with the complaint," said Yvette Monet, of MGM Resorts International Corporate Public Affairs. Monet declined to comment further.
Standard hotel procedures in Las Vegas call for personnel to document complaints and immediately close a room suspected of having bed bugs -- as well as surrounding rooms. Professional inspectors then are to investigate and treat problems they find.
Taylor said his clients notified the hotel, but inspectors said there was nothing in their rooms. The hotel was supposed to fumigate and return the women's clothes, Taylor said, including gowns and other expensive attire, together worth thousands of dollars.
But the women never received their clothes back, he said.
"We're trying to work out something with the hotel, and they're just not responding," Taylor said of the Monte Carlo. "We got the switchboard shuffle."
Bed bugs can carry blood-borne diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic, but there is no evidence the insects transmit them to humans.
"Vacationers, especially people flying to Vegas, should not be put through this," Taylor said. "If something like this does happen, the management has an obligation to compensate the people, to give them alternatives and take care of them. And they just didn't do it in this case."