Moviegoers claim bedbugs bit them at Hollywood movie theater

Woman says she, friends chewed by bedbugs while watching 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – More moviegoers have come forward claiming they were bitten by bedbugs at Regal Cinemas Oakwood 18 movie theater.

"Not only was it the back of my legs, it was the side of legs, it was both legs and then it started coming all the way down to my arms," said Sheyla Santillana, who claims her family and some some friends were all chewed to bits by bedbugs on Sept. 19 as they watched the new "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie in auditorium 17.

The next day, the back of her legs and arms were swollen with red welts. She said her pain and itching were so severe she went to the hospital where staffers didn't take any chances.

"My joints were hurting, my whole arm, I mean every time I turned my elbow, moved my arm, it hurt," Santillana said. "I had to take off my clothes in front of this gentlemen and a lady. They were wearing big suits and masks and I had to put my stuff in a plastic bag and take a shower in front of them."

Her 4-year-old daughter was bitten, too. To make matters worse, they unknowingly brought the bedbugs home. She said the little bloodsuckers have infested their couch and bed.

Local 10 News first reported about the bedbug issue at Oakwood earlier this month after a couple claimed they were bitten in auditorium 16. The manager refused to talk to Local 10 then and the calls to corporate have still not been returned.

But according to an email, the theater manager told the city of Hollywood that Ecolab inspected for bed bugs in response to the complaints, but the company didn't find any insects. She also said their regular pest control service was done Sept. 16, a few days days before the Santillanas and other victims were there.

"They know they have an issue with pests, they try to treat and yet it's infested in two theaters? I think the theater has some questions to answer," said the Santillanas' attorney.

Bedbugs are not considered a health risk. No state or local agency monitors businesses for them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies bedbugs as nuisance pests.

"There have been various reports about bed bug concerns at the Oakwood cinema," said Russ Nunley, the vice president of marketing and communications for Regal Entertainment Group. "The safety of our guests and that of our staff are always of the utmost importance to us and once we were notified, immediate steps were taken to investigate the allegations. 

"We engage the services of professional pest control providers to ensure the safety of our guests and staff. We want all of our guests to feel confident that they will be safe when they attend a feature at Oakwood, and in furtherance of that objective, we will continue to engage professionals to conduct routine inspections at this facility as long as necessary to ensure the continued safety of our guests and staff."

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