MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – A South Carolina attorney specializing in bed bug cases said Myrtle Beach accounts for 80% of his business statewide.
Columbia attorney Trevor Eddy said bed bug lawsuits fell into his lap when he first opened his firm in 2018. Last year, his active caseload nearly has tripled to 120.
“We’re filing them, honestly, faster than we can close the cases,” Eddy said.
What started with just him and an assistant has grown to five full-time staff members in the past year. Most of the company’s cases are alleged bed bug bites.
“This is a huge blow 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 build 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 Eddy’s firm. Hudson was vacationing in Myrtle Beach in November 2021 when she claims she was bitten more than 350 times by bed bugs.
“It felt like knives were coming out of my face,” Hudson said.
Hudson was staying in a short-term rental apartment at the Oceans One Resort in Myrtle Beach. She was moved to another room but said her holiday was ruined as bite marks covered her body from head to toe.
“I’ve been in a car accident,” Hudson said. “I’ve had several things in my life, and this was by far the most painful.”
Hudson is allergic to bed bug bites and said she was forced to go to an urgent care center to treat the pain and swelling while still on vacation. He said the pain eventually lasted two weeks.
Hudson and Eddy filed a lawsuit against the resort and the condo owner based on $400 in medical bills for which Hudson said he was not reimbursed as promised.
“I just want to make sure this never happens to anybody because the pain was noticeable,” Hudson said.
Eddy said a growing portion 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 at these rentals varies widely.
“This is a big concern because these Silicon Valley companies just operate these websites,” Eddy said. “They do not inspect, manage, do pest control, do the cleaning of these units. It all depends on the individual owners.”
Eddy estimates that 15% of current cases are against short-term rentals and not hotels, motels and resorts. He added that the industry needs more oversight in South Carolina, and suggested a government-run online database with a memo and a comprehensive list of wrongdoing complaints similar to guidelines for restaurants to follow.
Eddy said he hopes his lawsuits will put the industry on notice and force change.
“I think over time these hotels will start 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 law in South Carolina would have required notice of bed bug infestations or landlords and property owners could face fines or even jail time. The bill died in committee.
Oceans One Resort told News13 on Friday that while the resort is named in the lawsuit, the individual who owns the condo is responsible for cleaning and maintenance.
“We have had nothing to do with this person,” said Ray Booth, general manager of Oceans One Resort. “We didn’t take the booking. We don’t get any money from it and we don’t even register it.”
Booth said he regrets the bad experience, adding that the rooms for which the resort is responsible are proactively sprayed quarterly and routinely disinfected monthly.