Oak Park hotel sues over bedbug claim

Carleton of Oak Park wants restitution from Massachusetts couple


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Click here to see the lawsuit.

An Oak Park hotel is suing a couple from Massachusetts over what they say is a false claim that the inn has bedbugs.

When Michael Gladstone and Liora Braun stayed at the Carleton Hotel of Oak Park, 1110 Pleasant, in April, they complained to the hotel manager about having bedbugs in their room. But the manager insisted there were no such problems at the Carleton, and a follow-up inspection from a local pest control company proved that, according to the lawsuit filed June 15 in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

The couple allegedly encountered bedbug problems after returning to their home, blamed the Carleton and followed up by posting a negative review of the hotel on tripadvisor.com, where the couple claimed that the hotel did nothing to address the alleged problem following their April stay.

The Carleton is adamant that it has no bedbug problem, and is seeking damages of more than $30,000 from Gladstone because of the hotel's "loss of business and loss of reputation." Two people clicked on the review as being "helpful," as of the time the lawsuit was filed, and the hotel wonders how many others the "malicious" post has discouraged from staying there.

"At least two, but possibly thousands, of potential customers have been dissuaded by the review posted by the defendant," the complaint states. "Nearly every day [the] Carleton hears comments from people who have read the review."

Mike Fox, the owner of the hotel, declined to comment last week, and a call to his attorney was not returned Monday. Gladstone and Braun did not return a call to their Massachusetts residence on Monday.

Oak Park-based Brennan's Pest Control inspected the hotel on May 6 and found no signs of bedbugs, according to a report attached to the lawsuit. Chris Brennan, owner and operator of the company, confirmed that he inspected the hotel. They also did work at the hotel to prevent bedbugs prior to the alleged incident in April.

"Their insistence that they got them from the Carleton has no basis," Brennan said.


Carleton of Oak Park Lawsuit

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Speedway from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 17th, 2014 8:40 PM

I for one would not choose to stay at a hotel that had a bedbug problem. Having said that, if someone alleges that they did when they didn't, to me that is a big deal. Happy to say that I had a friend who came to visit in August and stayed at the Carlton for 3 nights and she had a lovely stay there.

Ernie E from Miami  

Posted: February 17th, 2014 5:31 PM

I'm glad the hotel sued, because otherwise I would not have heard of this problem. Now I know to stay away from this hotel. I cant' afford to stay in a hotel that sues its customers.


Posted: September 29th, 2011 9:35 AM

Yes. By you.


Posted: September 29th, 2011 1:38 AM

How ironic that people on this comment board want someone to verify something before posting to website. Bogus claims are made on this here website OP.com comment sections daily. Ha Ha Ha

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 28th, 2011 11:54 PM

Cont.... Carlton Hotel, I've stayed at your hotel and it was a very nice stay. Of course that was before you had bed bugs. Only kidding... Please don't have your top lawyer initiate another lawsuit.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 28th, 2011 11:53 PM

Cont... could go after tripadvisor.com from falsely advertising the Carlton as a hotel filled with bed bugs. Carlton, you decision to go after some people who may be the type of people who like to be bitter and post bad things about people and places should have be left at contacting tripadvisor.com You are never going to get a 100 percent A rating from people and websites make it so easy for people to post about anything they want. People can be a lot like babies that know how to type.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 28th, 2011 11:48 PM

Seems most unfair that tripadvisor.com does not verify the accuracy of a review. Why is that they are excluded from this suit?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 28th, 2011 11:46 PM

Cont... Now if Carlton would notify or has notified tripadvisor.com to remove the negative complaint because they can prove the claim to be false should have resolved it, and moved on like responsible business people. But lets create another scenario for a lawsuit. Lets say Carlton did request to have the complaint removed and did provide proof that would be reasonable to tripadvisor.com and tripadvisor.com at that point refused to remove the complaint, then The Carlton's lawyer could go.. cont.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 28th, 2011 11:43 PM

Cont.... They would be had responsible for not removing a positive review that they were in disagreement with. Now comes the plantiff, Carelton Hotel, who is not happy about a bad review. They decide instead of proving to the 3rd party, tripadvisor.com that the claim is false, they jump to filing a lawsuit. I'm sure this part of the Carlton not asking tripadvisor.com to review their request of removing the negative complaint will become part of the court transcripts. Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 28th, 2011 11:35 PM

Cont... The guests arrive and disagree with the review and need to relocate to a new hotel. This becomes expensive and wastes time that the people could be earning money. The value of their time is established. Now they are going to sue the person who recommended the hotel and even go after the hotel who did not make any attempt to remove the positive review. The hotel would need to prove they actually believed the reviewers comments to be what they believed to be true, otherwise.....

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 28th, 2011 11:32 PM

Which lawyer will win the case? The lawyer who gets paid. You have to prove what the damages are to the hotel. That's not going to be based on someone's review of a hotel. You can make this a domino effect and find out a lot of reasons to sue someone. Lets say someone writes a very positive review on the Carleton, and someone reads that review and on that person's recommendations, books 10 rooms at the hotel.

A R WIlliamson from Washington DC  

Posted: September 28th, 2011 9:45 PM

I think the people like that should be sued, and I think more hotels should do that, most chains have complaint policies in place for refunds and legitimate complaints, Tripsadvisor goes to far it hurts a hotels business and hurts employees when people lie or misrepresent, keep your opinions to yourself!!, if it was your business I bet all of you would sing a different tune when it affects your bank account unjustly.


Posted: July 6th, 2011 7:41 AM

these days everyone is lawsuit happy. if you are going to post any review online that is negative do it anonymously or with afake name that is not someone else identity. had they done that under a false or anonymous name they would not have been sued.


Posted: June 30th, 2011 4:19 PM

Before I go, let me just state that this is my last post on this topic. I'm not looking to go back and forth with the likes of you. =-) I said they seem suspect. Could it be true? Sure. But, I doubt it, and that's my opinion. I'm sorry that you hate the Carleton, suing, and people disagreeing with you but tough cookies. Suck it up.


Posted: June 30th, 2011 3:53 PM

Why would you even assume it's a bedbug? And if you were careful enough to look it up, randomly assuming it's a bedbug, you would have been 3x more careful when you RETURNED HOME. Duh... again, epic fail. There's no way they would have been able to infest the house, because everything would have been put in glad bags. Are you kidding me? Yeah... real smart. They looked up the bug, but overlooked the important part. Okay...

epic lulz  

Posted: June 30th, 2011 3:05 PM

Right, because while you're smart enough to consult the inet, you assume that the defendants are so stupid that they could have only obtained the same knowledge either by being obsessed or infected. Someone here is biased, but it's not me.


Posted: June 30th, 2011 1:40 PM

epic fail - Obvious? Not really. Maybe you have some vendetta against the Carleton, but no... really that's not obvious lol.

epic lulz  

Posted: June 30th, 2011 9:58 AM

"I say the customers are suspect. I googled bedbugs ... IMHO, you'd have to be a huge bug fan or have had bedbugs in the past to be able to pick one out of the line up." Or maybe they just googled bedbugs like you did, and made a live comparison? Never thought of the obvious, did you?


Posted: June 30th, 2011 2:42 AM

I remember when I was in the lodging business, I ran across a lot of rif-raff who would demand refunds for baseless reasons, basically they were trying to scam us out of the price for a night's stay, and they would threaten us with bad reviews if they didn't get their way. I'm glad that someone is finally being held responsible for this sort of bad behavior, and I hope the Carlton wins!


Posted: June 24th, 2011 7:36 PM

I say the customers are suspect. I googled bedbugs because I couldn't help but wonder how they identified the bug. I always thought bedbugs were near impossible to see with the naked eye. IMHO, you'd have to be a huge bug fan or have had bedbugs in the past to be able to pick one out of the line up. So, I'm glad the Carleton is suing. False reviews are quite annoying.


Posted: June 22nd, 2011 5:15 PM

I stayed at one of the suites at the Carleton a couple of years ago and it was lovely. But I am having a hard time understanding this lawsuit. Why wouldn't TripAdvisor remove the review if the hotel had evidence that it was not true? Shouldn't they be getting sued instead? I hate the idea of customers being afraid to review hotels or restaurants. It seems if the couple was not maliciously lying, they have the right to share their impressions.

Paddy Boy  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 2:14 PM

Richard J. has the best - and most logical answer. The plaintiffs should have produced a bedbug(s) and proved it came from the Carleton and that the bug actually caused damages. Maybe we need to plant a "bug" in some of the rooms to get to the bottom of this.

O P Resident  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 2:39 PM

I think I'm going to the bank to see if I have enough money to build a stand alone 3rd "new" hotel.

Jon Donohue  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 1:34 PM

@Hyatt, it is sad to see how quick you are to lay blame and ignore the principals of Economics 101. If demand existed, Sertus would find money from investors and build their hotel. The hotel is not being built because there is no demand for a third hotel. If you think a third hotel is such a great idea why haven't you funded the project or found a group of investors to fund the project? It seems that you just want to blame others for this failure and ignore the true causes of failure. Thanks!


Posted: June 21st, 2011 11:20 AM

Well, we can thank people like Jon Donahoe who contend Oak Park doesn't need another hotel for helping ensure we'll live for years more with two hotels with image problems. Thanks Jon!

Richard J Pollack from Needham, Massachusetts  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 6:42 AM

Were the objects seen by the guests at the hotel or at home bona fide bed bugs? How would they know? If they were bed bugs, were they carried home from the hotel, or t'other way around? Guests and managers who find a presumed pest should capture it, or its digital likeness, and submit either for independent evaluation. Learn more about the biology & management of bed bugs, and about identification resources from identify.us.com. Richard Pollack, PhD (a public health entomologist)


Posted: June 21st, 2011 6:35 AM

This is interesting. If the Carleton hears something about this review every day, what is preventing them posting their position on tripadvisor.com like other hotels have done in similar situations? Secondly, why is the Carleton not asking for an apology or a redaction of the posting by the defendants? This should be a warning to all - don't ever write a bad review about Mike Fox's businesses.


Posted: June 21st, 2011 4:32 AM

This is the first case that I have come across of the hotel suing their customers in relation to bed bugs. It would be interesting to see what type and level of due diligence the hotel had/has in place for situations such as this. From my testing the BB Alert products could actually be a strong contender for due diligence purposes because these type of monitors can find bed bugs even when they are not picked up by visual inspection. I am interested to see how this story turns out!

30 year OP resident from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 7:27 PM

Let's not be too hasty in assuming anything about the Write Inn said in 2008. I recently inspected about eight rooms at random (for an upcoming family wedding), and while I found the Inn less than luxe, I did look closely for bedbugs and found no evidence at all.

Paul Obis, the dad from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 7:10 PM

I tend to agree with Epic Lulz. Although I've tried to be supportive of the Carleton, I've found the place to be run down and dingy. The Orrington in Evanston is of a similar vintage and underwent a $34 million renovation in 2003 and it has since gained national recognition as a historic hotel. The Hotel Baker in St. Charles underwent a similar renovation. The Carleton has maintained itself on the cheap. I would never recommend it.

epic lulz  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 6:02 PM

Similarly, that the Carleton did not bring in professionals for one month, actually supports claim (2). There is no case. Hopefully the defendants will counter-sue, and the bad publicity and drop in business will prevent the Carleton from ever again suing customers over a bad review.

dan from forest park  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 6:01 PM

Good for the Carleton. They should sue for more than that. These negative false posts are a problem more common than you might think It is unfortunate in that you can not protect yourself. Let's see how serious the alleged bed bugs were when they have to protect themselves from their home state and hire a nice expensive lawyer here!!

epic lulz  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 6:00 PM

Read the brief. It is wholly without merit. The defendants make two claims: 1) that they found one bedbug on the husband in the middle of the night while at the Carleton, and 2) that the Carleton did not take their report seriously. A cursory search by non-professionals the next day and a professional search one month later, both searches conducted ONLY in the three rooms, does not, and cannot, disprove claim (1). (cont...)

Another Jean from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 5:41 PM

Tripadvisor also has a review from 2008 saying Write Inn as the same insect problem.


Posted: June 20th, 2011 5:06 PM

The hotel was right to sue. Business is very negatively affected by reports of bedbugs and it wasn't even true, apparently. That is the definition of libel.

epic lulz  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 4:45 PM

The Carleton now needs to sue themselves for loss of business. That they sue their customers is a far bigger reason to never stay there then bedbugs, and they can be assured that they just lost guaranteed business from my family, friends, and business associates.

O P Resident  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 4:27 PM

True or not, another reason we need a NEW hotel in Oak Park.

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