MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A South Carolina attorney specializing in bed bug cases said Myrtle Beach accounts for 80% 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 active case count has almost tripled to 120.
“We’re signing them up, 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 in the past year. The majority of the firm’s cases are alleged bed bug bites.
“This is a massive detriment to one of our biggest industries in the state of South Carolina,” Eddy said. “Tourism is huge here, and I hate that we’re starting to build up a bed bug reputation because it’s bad for business. It’s bad for the local economies.”
Kira Hudson is one of hundreds of bed bug clients represented by Eddy’s firm. Hudson was on vacation in Myrtle Beach in November 2021 when she claims she was bitten more than 350 times by bed bugs.
“It just felt like knives coming out of my face,” Hudson said.
Hudson was staying in a short-term rental condo at the Oceans One Resort in Myrtle Beach. She was moved to another room but said her vacation was ruined nonetheless, as bite marks covered her body head to toe.
“I have been in a car crash,” Hudson said. “I have had several things in my life, and that was by far the most painful.”
Hudson is allergic to bed bug bites and said she was forced to go to an urgent care facility to treat the pain and swelling while still on vacation. She said the pain ultimately lasted two weeks.
Hudson and Eddy filed a lawsuit against the resort and the condo’s owner based on $400 medicals bills for which Hudson said she’s not been reimbursed as promised.
“I just want to make sure this never happens to anyone because the pain was just remarkable,” Hudson said.
Eddy said a growing portion of his cases involve short-term rentals like Airbnbs and condos on vacation rental site Vrbo. He said the quality of care and upkeep of these rentals varies widely.
“This is a huge area of concern because these Silicon Valley companies, they’re only operating these websites,” Eddy said. “They don’t inspect, manage –– do the pest control, do the cleaning for these units. It’s all left up to the individual owners.”
Eddy estimates 15% of the current cases are against short-term rentals and not hotels, motels and resorts. He added the industry needs more oversight in South Carolina, suggesting an online government-run database with a grade and complete list of bed bug complaints similar to guidelines restaurants have to follow.
Eddy said he hopes his lawsuits put the industry on notice and force change.
“I do believe that over time these hotels are going to start implementing better policies or taking the policies that they’ve already got on the paper and do a better job of enforcing these policies,” Eddy said.
A proposed bill in South Carolina would have required notice 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 even though the resort is named in the lawsuit, the individual who owns the condo is responsible for cleaning and upkeep.
“We had nothing to do with this person,” said Ray Booth, Oceans One Resort general manager. “We didn’t take the reservation. We don’t get any money from her, and we don’t even check them in.”
Booth said he’s sorry for the bad experience, adding that the rooms the resort are responsible for are proactively sprayed quarterly, and routine extermination sprays are done monthly.