Judge's Ruling Reveals How Fox News Dealt With A Massive Bed Bug Infestation

Fox News will go to great lengths to get rid of a pest at the office. Nope, not Glenn Beck. We're talking about a massive bed bug infiltration at the cable news network's New York headquarters, which prompted "extraordinary measures," according to a recent opinion authored by a New York judge, which stops just short of subjecting all Fox News employees to a screening process more intrusive than those conducted at the nation's airports. Here's how Fox News wages the war on bed bud extremism:

In 2007, Fox News offices in New York became subject to a bed bug attack. Several employees, many working at the satellite desk, were bitten, later complaining of physical and psychic injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder. At the time, the city at large was experiencing a bed bug attack. Homes, hotels, classrooms and movie theaters became victim to these nocturnal vermin.

Jane Clark, a Fox News employee, sued Beacon Capital Partners, Cushman & Wakefield, American Quality Cleaning Corp., and others the following year. Although Clark wasn't the only New Yorker subject to the litigation bug, this Fox Newser became the first worker to bring a lawsuit against a commercial landlord and its agents over bed bugs.

In reviewing the case, New York Supreme Court Judge Carol Edmead reviews all the steps taken by Fox News to get rid of bed bugs.

  • Fox News installed insect monitors
  • Fox News began chemical treatments
  • Fox News moved its studio to another part of the building
  • Bed-sniffing dogs were brought in.
  • A Certified entomologist employed by the American Museum of Natural History was brought in.
  • Fox News hired a contractor to begin applying the freezing agent Cryonite to steam-treat the carpeting.

None of this worked.

Eventually, Fox News found its problem.

After Fox began bed bug inspections at the homes of its employees -- um, nanny state? -- they discovered that one of their employee's homes was infested with spiderwebs, cockroach droppings, and yes, bed bugs. The American Museum entomologist concluded that the treatments were working, but every time the premises were made bed-bug free, the same employee would bring new bed bugs into the offices. (Eventually, this employee left Fox News and began receiving workers' comp.)

The question for the court is strictly whether the tenant's landlord and its agents have any legal obligation, and thus liability, in eradicating the bed bugs before these pests harm employees.

"Here, the property defendants could not have taken any measures beyond those taken by its tenant," says Judge Edmead, who comes away impressed at the efforts by Fox News to get rid of the bugs, including she says, searching the "second homes" of some of its employees.

The judge adds that Clark can't offer any measure that could have been taken to produce better results. In an order earlier this month that dismissed the lawsuit, she writes:

"Movants posit that since there are no effective prophylactic measures against bed bugs, the only thing they could do to prevent bed bugs would be to subject all persons entering the building and their possessions to a through search by specially trained dogs and human inspectors which would be much more intrusive than the searches conducted at airports -- a practical impossibility since more than 6,000 people a day go into the building."

Impractical? Oh the horror.

E-mail: eriqgardner@yahoo.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner

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