BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Latangela Wilson was just getting into the movie, “Barbershop: The Next Cut” at the North Buffalo Regal Cinemas with her daughter, Jazmine, 10, last April, when her neck and shoulders started to itch uncontrollably.
Jazmine was scratching, too, and Wilson recalled the itching got to the point they had to leave the theatre, “It just kept getting worse, and I’m like ‘Jazmine something is biting me’. So Jazmine is like, ‘Ma, something is biting me’.”
The bites, which Wilson believed to be from bedbugs, were so severe they caused an adverse reaction, so the Buffalo mom went to an urgent care center, where medical staff confirmed the bug bites.
After being treated at the urgent care center, Latangela returned to Regal Cinemas, to advise the manager of the bugs, but she said he didn’t seem to be interested.
“He never even came from behind the counter. He kind of like straddled his arms, and was like, ‘well, I would have to go in there and check, but I can’t do that right now because there is a movie going on’.”
Two weeks later Wilson finally got a response in the form of a letter from Regal Cinemas’ insurance carrier saying their claims adjuster investigated Wilson’s complaint, and determined the theatre has no bugs.
The insurance carrier, Liberty Mutal, wrote Latangela and her daughter in separate letters, they were denying her claim based on their investigation, because there was “no insect activity in the theatre”.
Now nearly two months later, others are complaining of bug bites in the same section of the Regal Cinemas complex, Theatre 3, and one customer, Taneeya Goodwin, even recorded a live bedbug on her boyfriend’s shirt, with her smartphone.
“We went into the bathroom because he kept feeling like he was getting bit. So we went in the bathroom, and then he pulled his shirt off, and when he pulled his shirt off he found the bedbug on his shirt.”
Regal Cinemas’ parent company, Regal Entertainment Group of Knoxville, TN, has declined to answer any of News 4’s inquiries into the bedbug complaints. So the only response, on the record, to a bedbug claim, thus far, has come from Liberty Mutual’s letter to Wilson which was, “no insect activity in the theatre”.
Wilson believes if the Regal group wants people to come to the theatre they need to a better job of protecting people from “getting bitten by bedbugs and other insects that may be in the theatre.”
It is important to note, all of the bug bite complaints Call 4 Action has received pointed to Theatre 3 at the complex. Bedbugs are not considered a public health threat, but if you get bitten by one, you should at least register the incident with the Erie County Health Department.