Elderly Houston Woman Dies from Bedbug Extermination

Photo of Jonathan Sneed

On July 28, 2017, an 82-year-old woman died from hyperthermia after returning to the apartment where she lived with her husband for thirteen years. The family of Elizabeth Ashbaugh filed a wrongful death suit against her former landlord and a pest control company claiming that a bedbug extermination treatment killed her.

Bedbugs are typically killed with a combination of chemical aerosol spray and radiant heat treatment. During a heat treatment, the temperature must be raised to at least 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes in order to effectively kill bedbugs. If the temperature is raised several degrees higher, the bugs and their eggs immediately die. This process generally takes at least six hours.

Mrs. Ashbaugh's apartment had recently undergone the non-chemical heat extermination technique in which the temperature of the apartment was raised to an unsafe temperature above 139 degrees. Elizabeth and William Ashbaugh were not home when the pest control company treated their apartment, but they returned shortly after. Within minutes of being home they began losing consciousness. An ambulance was called and both were rushed to the hospital. Elizabeth Ashbaugh passed away that evening.

The suit filed in Harris County accuses the landlord and the pest control company of negligence and acting with malice and/or conscious disregard for human safety by failing to instruct the Ashbaugh's when it was safe to return home and failing to communicate with them that it was not safe for them to return.

This isn't the first case of a bedbug treatment gone wrong. News sources say some bedbug treatments have left homes in flames in the United States and Canada. If you or someone you know has been affected by negligent landlords or pest control companies, it is important to find a skilled law firm with experience handling these cases to ensure that companies are held fully accountable. The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz is the oldest personal injury firm in Texas, and our attorneys are standing by to assist with your claim. Call us today at 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584 for your free consultation.

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