Laws and Regulations
Defending against frivolous law suits
Due to the high impact of pests on people in various situations, but especially when travellers encounter pests in hotels, or tenants have pest issues in multi-dwelling residential settings, there is a potential for frivolous law suits. These kinds of law suits can happen through a variety of circumstances, and occur much more frequently in the U.S. where litigation is much more common, and some legal firms are searching for these cases as a means of gaining high revenue. Law suits for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages do make the news, but these cases can also occur with much smaller claims such as replacement of furniture and abatement of rent. What makes a case “frivolous” is when a claimant is seeking damages that far exceed the actual circumstances, or may even been a ploy to stave off eviction proceedings due to overdue rent. Legal fees themselves can be quite costly if a tenant is eligible for legal aid although many cases are resolved through mediation or with less costly paralegals.
The best defense against frivolous law suits is an excellent IPM Program. These cases are based largely on the due diligence of the facility manager and staff, and of the pest control contractor be it a hotel, or a rental facility, a university residence or a senior residence or care facility.
This means that the facility has a well managed program in place and part of the program includes excellent “DUE DILIGENCE”. When an IPM program is in place, (and not only in name, but in practice)
Definition of due diligence.
Due diligence in legal terms meansthat the service provider has taken all the appropriate measures, precautions, communications and service actions that would be required under the law. For example, if a service provider failed to fulfill a condition of the service agreement, or an obligation under the law, that would be a failure of due diligence, and would result in the cost of various damages that resulted from this failure. Proof of due diligence is the best defense against any frivolous or indeed, any law suit relating to pest control. An example would be if a contractor failed to maintain bait stations at exterior of a food plant, and this resulted in a major rat problem at the plant. Or if a landlord rented an apartment that had been infested with bed bugs, and did not confirm that the infestation had been eliminated by a reasonable detection method. In some jurisdictions the landlord is obliged to inform a prospective tenant of any infestation within the rental unit and/or in the building during a defined period – up to two years. Due diligence is affirmed by excellent records of treatments, and measures taken including the above noted confirmation of elimination.
 Many programs are labelled “IPM” but when subject to basic scrutiny are found to be IPM only in name and nothing else. A true IPM program must have evidence of all the basic elements in practice as well as in detail of the contract, not merely in name on paper.