Homeless man sues CAPSLO over bed bug infestation

October 24, 2013
Jeff Stone and dog Boomer

Jeff Stone and dog Boomer

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A homeless man filed suit Tuesday against two San Luis Obispo nonprofits for illnesses he suffered following a bed bug infestation at a homeless shelter the organizations own and operate.

Bed bugs bit Jeff Stone during his July stay in the Maxine Lewis Memorial Homeless Shelter in San Luis Obispo. The bites became infected with the drug-resistant bacterium Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Stone is suing both Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), which operates the Maxine Lewis shelter, and the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo (HASLO), which owns the property in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. HASLO rents the shelter to CAPSLO for $1 a year.

“These bites, and the wounds they caused, are the direct result of intentional, willful and wanton conduct,” Stone states in the lawsuit.

Stone alleges that on the evening of July 12, several occupants of the shelter notified CAPSLO staff that they found bed bugs in their beds, but shelter workers ignored the problem. Later that night, bed bugs bit Stone on his stomach and forearm.

The bites became red and swollen, and a week later, Stone checked himself into the emergency room at French Hospital. A lab test on an abscess on Stone’s right forearm determined that he had contracted MRSA.

After notifying CAPSLO that he had contracted MRSA, nonprofit staff kicked Stone out of homeless services for the duration of his infection and did not provide him alternative housing, Stone states in the lawsuit.

A month prior to Stone’s bites, another homeless man, Joe Olinde, contracted MRSA from bed bugs bites that also occurred in the shelter. CAPSLO quarantined Olinde in a San Luis Obispo motel for three nights in late June, but did not close the shelter.

The critters continued to bite more homeless people, prompting CASPLO to close the shelter on July 8. Even though CAPSLO had already quarantined Olinde, Homeless Services Director Dee Torres told the San Luis Obispo Tribune that the nonprofit first learned of the bed bug problem on July 8.

During the shelter closure, CAPSLO did not use the standard protocol of extreme heat treatment. It reopened the shelter on July 12, and bed bugs bit Stone that night.

CAPSLO since closed the shelter twice more to eradicate bed bugs. It used heat treatment each time.

Bed bugs bit a total of at least 15 CAPSLO clients since the summer infestation. Some of the bites occurred at the Prado Day Center after CAPSLO staff brought shelter bedding there for cleaning.

Last month, Stone demanded a settlement from CAPSLO for his MRSA infected bites, as well as for the nonprofit refusing him a bed at the shelter when he arrived with a serviced dog.

CAPSLO Chief Operating Officer Jim Famaletter responded to Stone’s demand with a letter denying the settlement and stating that bed bugs do not transmit disease.

“We had been in contact with the County Public Health Department during the time of the shelter treatment and received information from them that there is no documented evidence that bed bugs transmit communicable diseases, Staphalococcus aureus or otherwise,” Famalette wrote. “We also researched information through the Center for Disease Control on this subject.”

In 2011, the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases published a letter to the editor by a Canadian doctor and a research professor who conducted a study on hospital patients with bed bugs in an impoverished area of Vancouver.

Medical doctor Marc Romney and researcher Christopher Lowe tested five bed bugs that patients brought into the hospital. Three of the bugs tested positive for MRSA, while the other two tested positive for the drug resistant bacterium known as VRE, Romney and Lower wrote in the CDC journal letter.

In his lawsuit, Stone is asking for a total judgment of $500,350, of which $250,000 is for punitive damages. Stone is also asking the court to order CAPSLO to partner with San Luis Obispo County to create an independent homeless services ombudsman position.

The ombudsman would serve CAPSLO homeless services clients “through complaint investigation, resolution and advocacy for improvement in services and care through a toll-free hotline and grievance form.”

Stone previously sued Imperial County over a wrongful eviction. The suit ended in a settlement.

 







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35 Comments

  1. paragon says:

    Maybe they can refund him all the money he paid to stay there.

    (17) 33 Total Votes - 25 up - 8 down
    • JB Bronson says:

      The question about Mr. Stone’s legal counsel would be best understood if the answer was someone from

      Crappy
      Ridiculous
      Legal
      Advice

      (11) 21 Total Votes - 16 up - 5 down
    • jrstone says:

      paragon,

      Our stay at the shelter is not free, sir. It is extremely affordable, a chore pays your way, but it is not free. Maybe under priced would be a better term. There are shelters I have read about that do charge a nominal fee (about $5.00 a night) and I wouldn’t be opposed to that in my case, but, most of those I’ve met can’t afford even that.

      I have a question for you; at what price would you see as a fair rate to insure my safety and well being while staying at the shelter? Keep in mind before you answer that there are very exclusive high priced lodging establishments out there that are struggling with this same problem, and, are being sued for their inadequacies in doing so.

      There’s the paragon Mr. paragon; those that can afford to sue can and will and those of us who can’t, well, shouldn’t? Why is that, Mr. paragon? Oh, I see; because we only do a chore we shouldn’t expect the same safe environment as those that can afford an expensive room at a posh hotel can, right? Or is it because only those that can afford to sue should?

      Here’s a real paragon Mr. paragon; someone like you thinking a statement as stupid as yours actually makes one damn bit of difference. Oh, wait! There are 16 other numbskulls just like you, isn’t there? Paragon after paragon….

      Just sayin’…

      (-6) 18 Total Votes - 6 up - 12 down
  2. Cindy says:

    “The bites became infected with the drug-resistant bacterium Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).”

    WOW, This is no joke, “Staphylococcus” is a serious bacteria that has become highly resistant to drugs. People can come down with it after being hospitalized if the facility isn’t diligent about sanitation and many hospitals aren’t what they used to be in area’s of cleanliness. I had a friend who came down with a Staphylococcus (staff) infection after being hospitalized as a day patient for 4 hours for a non related illness. As a result of her short stay at the hospital, she contracted a staff infection and it took six months to clear up that infection and many rounds of antibiotics, in fact the staff infection was worse than the reason she went into the hospital to begin with.

    No joke, staff is very difficult to treat and it spreads fast. If bed bugs are actually carrying that bacteria, be worried, like i said, it is resistant to drugs and there are currently very few drugs that can overcome it. The more people who contract it the faster the bacteria is mutating into a new resistant strain. .

    (-5) 25 Total Votes - 10 up - 15 down
    • paragon says:

      First of all, it’s “staph” not “staff”. Second, most Staphylococcus is NOT highly resistant to drugs – it is only the rare (but serious) MRSA varieties that are highly resistant. Common staph bacteria can be found on many surfaces around your home and is present on the skin and in the noses of practically every human, including you, Cindy. But thanks for the healthy dose of hysteria, now please leave the medical pronouncements to people with actual knowledge in the area.

      (16) 38 Total Votes - 27 up - 11 down
      • Cindy says:

        “staph” not “staff”. I agree and that is what my friend contracted that took 6 months and many rounds of anti-biotics to overcome. I think we’re not talking about the stuff in our nose or counter top. Sorry that you got confused.

        (-8) 24 Total Votes - 8 up - 16 down
      • Cindy says:

        Here yah go know-it-all

        http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2012/Pages/VRSA.aspx

        There are over a dozen strains of Staph that are currently known to be resistant to vancomycin, “an antibiotic of last resort”. It doesn’t sound like you have much knowledge and by the way MRSA actually stands for only some of the strains that are drug resistant.

        (-5) 25 Total Votes - 10 up - 15 down
  3. Pelican1 says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I think it best if the Grand Jury was to look into the dealings of this publicly funded organization.

    (4) 32 Total Votes - 18 up - 14 down
  4. JB Bronson says:

    Wonder who legal counsel is for Mr. Stone?

    (23) 29 Total Votes - 26 up - 3 down
    • bobfromsanluis says:

      What difference does that make? Is he or is he not entitled to legal counsel and legal recourse through our legal system?

      (-8) 28 Total Votes - 10 up - 18 down
    • JB Bronson says:

      Hey bobfromsanluis: You would understand the question about Mr. Stone’s legal counsel if the answer was someone from

      Crappy
      Ridulous
      Legal
      Advice

      (6) 24 Total Votes - 15 up - 9 down
  5. info says:

    Mr. Stone (a.k.a. Molski Part Deux),

    Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. If you choose to continue to burden taxpayers and sue the hand that feeds you while reducing vital services from your fellow homeless brethren then so be it. You can exercise that right; however, in my humble opinion that makes you no different than those free loading bed bugs. Then you justify it because you are afraid of losing such an inalienable right because of ‘lack of use’? Whatever helps you sleep at night.

    Just sayin’…..

    BTW I must admit I’m a sucker also. A sucker who lost his 2nd amendment rights and who continues to work hard and pay taxes without burdening the American public. Hell, that makes me the biggest sucker of them all!

    (19) 37 Total Votes - 28 up - 9 down
    • Word says:

      So you an anonymous commenter, tries to link Mr Stone to Molski (not even close), suggests he is hurting other homeless and taxpayers, suggest he is a freeloader and question his rights?

      But you didn’t stand up for your rights and want to bitch about it.

      This is not the place you think it is.

      (-15) 33 Total Votes - 9 up - 24 down
    • jrstone says:

      info,

      Burden? Really? That’s exactly the term my company used when they said they were letting me go because my back couldn’t stand up to the riggers of my job. They said I had become a burden to the company, my co-workers, those that I supervised and to my customers. I agreed.

      It was used as the reason my teammates (I played in fast pitch softball leagues and adult basketball leagues) used when they got together to ask me not to play and give up my roster spots to someone who could compete. I agreed.

      It was the implied reason my former wife gave for divorcing me (“You’re keeping me and your son down when you can’t work) . I agreed.

      Three areas of my life that I loved I gave up because I was a burden. And now you? Go to hell Mr. info! Please go quickly!

      “Biting the hand that feeds you” is a term that you are using to imply that whatever the hands offers up should be accepted without question and you should be gratified even if it causes you harm, right? Again, go to hell Mr. info! Please go quickly!

      The real burden here is you and those who think like you, period! You burden those of us with more than the guilt we feel about the situation we have left those we love in, how we can’t work and contribute at the level we used to and compete in the areas of life we loved anymore; you burden us with your often listened to BS that some take to keep us down and not let us progress out of this mess we’re in! It’s called prejudice Mr. info, and it’s as ugly and perverse as any racial, sexual preference or gender based prejudice is!

      I guess it’s a given that if it’s free it should be okay if it causes you harm, right? More burden you would put on us! The burden of knowing that those that profess to care about our plight can treat us as they will without accountability or consequence. We can have a meal that gets us sick, sleep in a bed that leaves us scarred or interact with someone who will harm us but if it’s done “free of charge” we can only accept it as the price of being in need.

      I feel no remorse about the course of action I have chosen to take, it’s about me taking a portion of my life back; the portion that says I am my only best advocate and that I need to take care of myself. I’m not your burden Mr. info, not at all; your burden is your preconceived notion, your prejudice, that I am somehow less than you and being so means I should just shut up, walk away and take whatever happens to me because it was freely given. Again, go to hell!

      Just sayin’…..

      (-10) 34 Total Votes - 12 up - 22 down
      • SLOBIRD says:

        Wow, this was a powerful thought provoking response and maybe a few of us that are quick to respond and judge should take a minute and put ourselves on this man’s road. A little jolt for our mediation this morning that we could all use…

        (-1) 11 Total Votes - 5 up - 6 down
      • UncleCharlie says:

        So you’re an angry man taking vengeance on society because everyone you know has deemed you to be a burden. You’re doing an excellent job of proving them right.

        (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
        • jrstone says:

          I broke out in laughter, rather loud too, in a public place when I read this. People looked and all I could do was shrug my shoulders, and then I calmed it down to a chuckle… Boy, I’m glad you’re not my uncle….
          I give you three instances where I was either directly called a burden or it was implied and you come to the conclusion that everyone I know has deemed be a burden? Really?! Then you come to another arm chair psych’ conclusion that I want to take vengeance on society. Wow! You’re good! Dr. Phil should take some notes here.
          Angry? Yea, just a bit. Vengeful? No, I don’t feel the need to harm anyone for what has happened to me.
          Anger is, if I need to remind the good arm chair psych’, a normal emotion; one that all humans, and some other species, have. What separates us from the other species is how we CAN manage it. I believe I have the right to be angry about what has happen to me at the hands of CAPSLO and how I choose to manage that anger is by being proactive in trying to hold them accountable and maybe, just maybe, showing others in my situation that YES YOU DO HAVE A VOICE!
          Thanks for the couch time…

          Just Sayin’….

          (-6) 14 Total Votes - 4 up - 10 down
  6. cosmos7 says:

    The only party making out is CAPSLO. They continue to rake it in while doing their level best to quash any dissent and actively stomping on any possible competition to their golden cash cow.

    Meanwhile we taxpayers get the shaft and have to pay out on these settlements whilst giving out top dollar for substandard services.

    (3) 37 Total Votes - 20 up - 17 down
    • OnTheOtherHand says:

      What cash cow? From what I have heard, the homeless services part of CAPSLO is constantly scraping to meet their budget. If you have information to the contrary — like paperwork showing that they take in more than they spend on this program, please post it. (I suspect that any “substandard services” are mostly due to inadequate funding not to “top dollar” spending.)

      (0) 22 Total Votes - 11 up - 11 down
  7. SLOthinker says:

    I hope that I am wrong, but I don’t see this going anywhere but a modest settlement for Mr. Stone.

    (-6) 18 Total Votes - 6 up - 12 down
  8. info says:

    “Stone previously sued Imperial County….ended in a settlement”. Sounds like these blood sucking bed bugs are not the only ones doing the sucking. Disappointed in both party’s but mainly Mr. Stone (IMHO)

    (12) 66 Total Votes - 39 up - 27 down
    • SLOTECH90 says:

      Since when is seeking redress through the appropriate system set up for just that purpose to be considered “sucking?” Why would you be disappointed in someone taking the appropriate action when wronged, and be apropriately compensated for their being wronged?

      (-9) 53 Total Votes - 22 up - 31 down
    • jrstone says:

      info,

      I am exercising a right that is given to me through our system of government, a right that if not exercised by those like me would probably be lost or only available to the elite.

      I wonder if you are also of the same mind of those who choose to exercise their inalienable right to freedom of speech, unreasonable search and seizure, privacy, assembly and any other freedom that may “suck” off those who would infringe on them when given the opportunity.

      I am an American Citizen and as such I have equal access to all remedies available through our legal system; if that somehow makes me a “sucker” then so be it. But damn it, Dude! I’d rather be characterized as this type of “sucker” then the one you would be when those rights are taken from you for lack of use, right?

      Just sayin’…..

      (-6) 52 Total Votes - 23 up - 29 down
      • OnTheOtherHand says:

        Many of us think that the legal system lacks sufficient consequences for those who file frivolous lawsuits. This encourages such behavior and makes it possible for people with weak cases to basically extort money from people and organizations who may not be in the wrong. The screwed up legal system makes it more expensive for them to fight against claims that are either unjustified or grossly exaggerated so they settle. Mr. Molski, to whom some are comparing you did this for several years before a judge finally ordered him to stop.

        Whether or not this is the case with you, I don’t know. But the fact that you have already sued Imperial County and reached a settlement makes me a bit wary of your motivation and justification.

        (15) 27 Total Votes - 21 up - 6 down
        • jrstone says:

          Molski? Me? Not even close! I’ve had two (including the current one) and he has had over 400 and you want to put me into the same category? Nice, very nice…

          “Many of us think…..”? Sounds like you’re a connoisseur of the hyperbolic Fox News Channel. You know the innuendos they are are so (in)famous for, right? “I’ve heard some say….”, “There are those that say…”, etc., etc…. Maybe you think that “Many of us think…” will bolster your argument, it doesn’t. What bolsters any opinion is a well thought out conclusion based on many avenues of verifiable information on the subject.

          My motivation? Accountability and justice. My justification? It’s my right to do so. That’s it.

          Frivolous? I’ll tell you what’s frivolous; a legal system that has become so convoluted that someone has to pay another $100, $200 sometimes $300 an hour to interpret it for them. A legal system that favors the elite while leaving the poor to wallow in legal aid, public defender, pro-Se and pro-per nightmares.

          Frivolous? FRIVOLOUS?!!! I’ll tell you whats frivolous; your “Many of us think…” comment! Now that’s frivolous and if you don’t think so you need to get out of here!

          Just sayin’…..

          (-6) 12 Total Votes - 3 up - 9 down
  9. kayaknut says:

    Like will all things ran by the government or supported by the taxpayers with little or no consequences when things go wrong, just funnel more taxpayer money to CAPSLO and they will fix everything. I’m sure Mr. Hill and his friend Mr. Gibson will help out will help out with this.

    (4) 48 Total Votes - 26 up - 22 down

Comments are closed.