Levittown mom claims Waldorf Astoria had bedbugs

FILE - In this file photo taken Aug. FILE - In this file photo taken Aug. 25, 2010, a bedbug is found in a mattress at a home in Columbus, Ohio. Photo Credit: AP

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Six-year-old Sophia Igneri came home from a weekend in midtown Manhattan in February with a new American Girl doll and ticket stubs from a taping of the television show "30 Rock," her lawyer said Friday.

But those weren't the only souvenirs the Levittown girl got in the city, her lawyer said. After what should have been a luxurious night at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, she also brought home bedbugs, said Donald Kiley, a Great Neck lawyer for Sophia and her mother, Susanne Igneri.

Sophia "had spots all over her groin and legs," Kiley said.

This week, Susanne Igneri filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Nassau County, saying her family had suffered $13,000 worth of loss and untold emotional distress as a result of the Feb. 20 bedbug incident.

A spokesman for Hilton Hotels, which owns the Waldorf, said a Feb. 24 inspection of the room where the family had stayed found no infestation. "The Waldorf Astoria takes allegations of bedbugs very seriously," spokesman Mark Ricci said. "The hotel took the guest room in question out of service and had it inspected by an outside specialist. The official inspection report stated that there was no evidence or indication of bedbugs."

Bedbug complaints, both in the city and on Long Island, have skyrocketed in recent years. The Nassau Department of Health has even established a Bed Bug Task Force.

Kiley said Sophia, her sister and her parents had gone to Manhattan to celebrate Susanne Igneri's birthday. Sophia slept on a rollaway cot provided by the upscale hotel, according to the complaint.

The following day, Sophia was covered in spots, court papers said. A trip to the pediatrician confirmed the spots were bedbug bites, Kiley said. The Igneris called the hotel within a couple of days, the lawyer said.

"Sophia was definitely traumatized by the whole thing," he said, adding that the child continues to have nightmares. Of the family, he said, "They feel like they were invaded."

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