Jales St. Pierre, 31, filed a lawsuit against Palm Desert Embassy Suites in Riverside County Superior Court, reports the Desert Sun. She claims she had a severe reaction to the bites, causing her pain and emotional distress. Jales St. Pierre also claimed the bites made it difficult for her to do her job.
She listed the hotel's owners, Hilton Worldwide, Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc. and Embassy Suites Management, LLC., as the defendants and is seeking monetary and punitive damages.
"She was there for a modeling job, and the bites got worse and worse every day," her attorney, Brian Virag, told PEOPLE. "It really was a traumatic experience for her physically and emotionally."
Virag is the founder of My Bed Bug Lawyer, a firm specializing in bed bug litigation. He said the bites made a "significant impact" on his client's career, as she was embarrassed by the marks the bites left on her body. He described the bites as "some of the most horrible that I have seen" and as a "massacre."
"For her, being a high profile model, her skin has to be perfect. No blemishes or things like that," Virag told PEOPLE. "With that happened at the hotel, it was obviously an emotional experience for her."
Palm Desert Embassy Suites general manager Carlos Mendoza denied the allegations, telling PEOPLE they moved Jales St. Pierre to another room after she told management about the bed bugs. However, after an inspection, management did not find evidence of bed bugs, Mendoza said.
"The inspection of the room did not reveal any evidence of bedbugs. The hotel took additional precautionary steps by contacting an outside pest control company. The pest control company reported and documented there was no evidence of any pest in the room including bedbugs. We deny the allegations put forth in the press and social media," the general manager said.
However, the lawsuit claims the hotel was not following pest control rules. Virag said bed bugs are an "epidemic problem" with hotels.
Virag has successfully represented clients against hotels in the past. In October, he won a $546,000 jury verdict for an Arkansas family that sued a Hilton Garden Inn in Rancho Cucamonga. He also represented a Southern California family that sued an apartment complex in Inglewood over a bed bug infestation in 2012. In April, the family was awarded $1.6 million.
Jales St. Pierre lives in New York and recently welcomed her first child, according to her Instagram page. She has also modeled for Tommy Hilfiger and Versace.
Photo credit: Instagram/Sabrina Jales St. Pierre