Georgia Man Infected by Bed Bugs from Casper Hotel Loses Lawsuit
A Georgia man sickened for a lifetime by bed bugs at a Casper hotel lost his federal civil lawsuit because he filed it too late, according to the judgment handed down Friday.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl recognized Frank Pascarelli's pain and that he has a legitimate claim, but that didn't override Wyoming's four-year civil statute of limitations, he wrote.
"Without question, this is a harsh result," Skavdahl wrote. "Unfortunately, such is often the case when statutes of limitations and their unrelenting nature are at issue."
The case started in April 2012 when Pascarelli came to Casper for business to work with a U.S. Marshal, and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard Casper, 4260 Hospitality Lane, according to his lawsuit filed by his attorney Jason Ochs.
Pascarelli, who works for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, was aware of diseases and infections, had been tested for some of them and always received a clean bill of health, according to the lawsuit.
After arriving about midnight on April 9, 2012, he showered, went to bed, woke up five hours later and saw numerous "painful, itchy, burning bites on his gluteal area and right leg."
Despite more than 100 bites, Pascarelli and the marshal went to Cheyenne the next day, but the pain became so overwhelming he sought treatment. After he returned to Atlanta the next day, he was hospitalized for two weeks because the bites "turned into excruciating large lesions." He required further hospitalization. "Doctors have determined that the aforementioned bed bug bites caused MRSA bacteria [that infects skin and can severely damage other organs] to enter the Plaintiffs body, for which he will require treatment for the rest of his life," according to the lawsuit.
Besides the health care costs, Pascarelli estimated that the infection will cost more than $500,000 in lost wages, and that it would cause him to fail the physical requirements to stay in the Air Force Reserves resulting in further financial losses.
Pascarelli initially sued Marriott and related businesses in 2014 in Georgia state court, which dismissed the entire case in June 2018.
A year later, he filed the case in Wyoming federal court.
On Dec. 3, Marriott and the other defendants responded with a request to dismiss the case because the statute of limitations for Pascarelli's claims expired on April 9, 2016. A Wyoming "savings statute" allows for some cases to be kept alive, but only if they are filed in Wyoming in the first place, according to Cheyenne attorneys John Coppede and Quinton Parham.
Statutes of limitations represent public policy controlling the right to litigate, and that litigation cannot go on forever, the attorneys wrote, citing case law.
"'The statutes operate against even the most meritorious of claims and courts have no right to deny their application,'" they wrote, citing case law.