Can an exterminator be held liable for a false analysis?

UPDATED: Sep 13, 2010

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Can an exterminator be held liable for a false analysis?

I recently had an exterminator diagnose my house with bedbugs. He then proceeded to spray chemicals throughout my house (with consent) and around my toddlers high chair and bottles(without my consent.) I also went out and spent close to $500 in products to clean and safe-guard my belongings. Since then I have had 3 other exterminators come in for second opinions and they all agree that there are no bed bugs. Does the exterminator owe me a refund? Should they be held responsible for the money I spent because of their misdiagnosis?

Asked on September 13, 2010 under General Practice, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You should speak with an attorney--you may have a cause of action, to recover what you paid the exterminator, your other costs, and possible for any medical care that might be prudent for you or your children. If he deliberately lied to you, then he committed fraud, which is something you can sue for. If he didn't lie, but was unreasonably careless or even reckless, or not sufficiently trained or knowledgeable for the job he voluntarily took on, he might have been negligent.

Alternatively, if you think the total costs you might try to claim for are not enough to justify an attorney--and usually, you need at least $1,500 or so to make it worthwhile (rough rule of thumb, subject to many variables), you could try to bring a claim in small claims court. However, I'd recommend at least speaking with a lawyer first (many provide a free initial consultation)--if, under a  more detailed analsys of the situation, the exterminator violated pesticide-related laws, violated some consumer protection law, or acted SO recklessly or intentionally bad that punitive damages might be possible, the amount you might be able to sue for could be larger. Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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