A Phlebotomus papatasi sand fly. Public domain photo by James Gathany, via CDC/ Frank Collins.
A Phlebotomus papatasi sand fly. Public domain photo by James Gathany, via CDC/ Frank Collins.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of four high school students alleges two Jewish youth organizations were negligent for taking the plaintiffs to a region infested with sandflies during a trip to Israel last year, causing them to suffer skin ulcers.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the North American Federation of Temple Youth, the organized youth movement of Reform Judaism in North America, and the Union for Reform Judaism.

Representatives of the organizations could not be immediately reached for comment on the lawsuit brought on behalf of the students — identified in the complaint only through their initials — by their parents.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages.

Both groups named in the suit run ads lauding their history of providing “safe and reliable” trips to Israel, according to the complaint.

“The defendants … professed and expressly informed the plaintiffs that they were experts in group tours to and accommodations in Israel,” the suit says.

To induce the youths and their parents to pay for and take part in the trip, the organizations’ members said they would “safeguard, supervise, monitor, protect and care” for the students, according to the lawsuit.

Without warning the students about sandflies or providing them with any protection against them, the groups took the students to an area of Israel they should have known was infested with the insects, the suit states.

“Worse yet, the defendants provided the plaintiffs with bug-infested bedding and no insect netting commonly used in the region,” the suit alleges. “As a result, the plaintiffs were each repeatedly bitten by the infected sandflies, which resulted in contraction of a permanent and life-altering disease … which manifests in part in painful and disfiguring skin ulcers.”

— City News Service

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