Saturday, June 10, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Hotel Can’t Exterminate Lawsuit Over Roach Spray

(CN) - The 6th Circuit allowed a pair of Maui hotel guests to proceed with a lawsuit accusing Marriott exterminators of spraying their belongings with toxic chemicals.

Elizabeth Gass and Deborah DeJonge were on vacation in 2004 when DeJonge found a dead cockroach in their hotel room.

When DeJonge entered her hotel room later, she discovered three men spraying chemicals, creating a "thick, horrid, acrid, putrid odor" in the hotel room. The men worked for Ecolab, a Michigan-based exterminating company.

After being exposed to the chemicals, the plaintiffs complained of stomach aches, numbness in their tongues and seeing stars. Their doctors also later diagnosed them with "brain fog, memory loss, and mood swings."

At trial, the defendants' experts argued that the plaintiff symptoms were a psychological reaction to stress.

The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants on the grounds that no experts had linked the plaintiffs' maladies to a specific pesticide.

However, Judge Clay of the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court reversed the decision.

"A reasonable person would understand that he or she could seriously injure another person by filling an occupied hotel room with a cloud of toxic or hazardous chemicals," Clay wrote.


Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.