MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — A South Carolina attorney specializing in bed bug cases said Myrtle Beach accounts for 80 percent of his business statewide.
Columbia-based attorney Trevor Eddy said bed bug lawsuits fell into his lap when he first opened his firm in 2018. In the past year, his number of active cases has nearly tripled to 120.
“We’re signing them, frankly, faster than we can close cases,” Eddy said.
What started with just him and one assistant has grown to five full-time employees in the past year. The majority of the firm’s cases are suspected bed bug bites.
“This is a huge detriment 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 get a reputation as bedbugs because it’s bad for business. It’s bad for local economies.”
Kira Hudson is one of hundreds of bed bug clients represented by Eddie’s firm. Hudson was vacationing in Myrtle Beach in November 2021 when she claims she was bitten more than 350 times by bed bugs.
“I felt like knives were coming out of my face,” Hudson said.
Hudson was staying at a short-term rental unit at Oceans One Resort in Myrtle Beach. She was moved to another room but said her holiday was ruined nonetheless as bite marks covered her body from head to toe.
“I was in a car accident,” Hudson said. “I’ve had a few things in my life and this was the most painful.”
Hudson is allergic to bed bug bites and said she was forced to go to an emergency room to treat the pain and swelling while still on vacation. She said the pain ended up lasting two weeks.
Hudson and Eddy filed a lawsuit against the resort and the condo owner based on $400 in medical bills that Hudson said she was not reimbursed as promised.
“I just want to make sure this never happens to anybody because the pain was just remarkable,” Hudson said.
Eddy said a growing number of his cases involve short-term rentals such as Airbnbs and apartments on the vacation rental site Vrbo. He said the quality of care and maintenance of these rental properties varies widely.
“It’s a huge area of concern because these Silicon Valley companies only run these websites,” Eddy said. “They’re not inspecting, managing — doing pest control, cleaning these units. Everything is left up to the individual owners.”
Eddy estimates that 15 percent of current lawsuits are against short-term rentals, not hotels, motels and resorts. He added that the industry needs more oversight in South Carolina, offering an online government-run database with a rating and a complete list of bed bug complaints, similar to the guidelines restaurants must follow.
Eddy said he hopes his lawsuits will alert the industry and force change.
“I truly believe that over time these hotels will begin to implement better policies or adopt the policies they already have on paper and do a better job of enforcing those policies,” Eddy said.
A proposed bill in South Carolina 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 this guy,” said Ray Booth, general manager of Oceans One Resort. “We didn’t take the reservation. We don’t get any money from it and we don’t even register it.
Booth said he regrets the bad experience, adding that rooms the resort is responsible for are proactively sprayed quarterly and routine kill sprays are done monthly.