Human Sex Trafficking Lawsuits Against Hotels

Our sex abuse lawyers represent victims of human trafficking in lawsuits against web companies, hotels, and other businesses that facilitate or profit from human sex trafficking.  Our primary focus here is lawsuits against hotels that looked the other way. Victims of trafficking can bring civil lawsuits against these hotel and get significant financial compensation.

This post will explain what constitutes human trafficking for legal purposes and how certain businesses indirectly facilitate or profit from it. We will also discuss how human trafficking victims might be able to sue these businesses and get monetary compensation.

Human Sex Trafficking Lawsuits Update

June 10, 2024 – New Lawsuit Against Motel 6 in Colorado

A transgender female (“P.C.”) has filed a sex trafficking lawsuit against D Fort Hotel, LLC, which operates Motel 6 in Fort Collins, CO, under the Federal William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA).

P.C. alleges that she was trafficked for commercial mace at the hotel in 2022, where she was induced by force, fraud, and coercion to engage in commercial sex acts. She claims that the hotel knowingly benefited financially from renting rooms used for trafficking, with payments made by her trafficker, who had direct interactions with hotel staff. The lawsuit contends that Motel 6 staff witnessed and observed clear signs of trafficking, such as constant foot traffic of sex buyers, impaired victims, and suspicious behavior, but failed to take action. She asserts that the hotel failed to implement adequate anti-trafficking policies and training, despite being aware of the widespread issue of trafficking within the hospitality industry.

June 4, 2024 – Venetian in Las Vegas Named in Trafficking Lawsuit

In a new sex trafficking lawsuit filed yesterday, a woman alleges that she was coerced into prostitution by a trafficker in Las Vegas in 2014. The plaintiff was repeatedly taken to several hotels owned by the defendants, including Aria Resort & Casino, Wynn Las Vegas, The Venetian Las Vegas, and New York-New York, where she was forced to engage in commercial sex acts.

These lawsuits all have the same theme: the hotel knew exactly what was going on but did not lift a finger to prevent it. This young woman says she showed visible signs of abuse and exploitation, including malnutrition, bruises, and injuries, while at these hotels. Despite these signs, the hotel staff did not ask questions, intervene, report the situation to authorities, or do what decent people do to make sure this at the time underaged girl was okay.

Her lawsuit argues that the hotels’ failure to implement and enforce anti-trafficking policies and procedures and their failure to adequately train staff on recognizing the signs of sex trafficking contributed to the plaintiff’s continued victimization. The lawsuit seeks to hold the defendants accountable for the needless suffering she endured.

May 9, 2024 – Lawsuit Alleges Sex Trafficking at Jamaica Hotel

In a new sex trafficking lawsuit, the plaintiff is suing Royal York Equities Corp., operating as JFK Inn, claiming damages under the federal William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 and New York law.

The complaint alleges that the defendants knowingly facilitated and profited from commercial sex trafficking at their hotel property in Jamaica, New York. It accuses the defendants of ignoring clear signs of trafficking and exploiting the situation for financial gain.

The allegations detail the harrowing experiences of a woman who was trafficked and exploited for commercial sex at a hotel in Jamaica, New York. After initially meeting her trafficker online when she was in college under the impression of a romantic relationship, she was manipulated and coerced into a situation of severe abuse and exploitation. This began when she was forced to engage in commercial sex at a New York City hotel and subsequently at another hotel managed by the defendants.

The complaint describes multiple instances of physical and psychological abuse, including being kept captive, repeated rape, and forced intoxication to maintain compliance. The plaintiff also endured severe mental distress, evidenced by an attempt to harm herself. Despite multiple audible and visible signs of distress and misconduct within the hotel premises, the staff and management failed to intervene or report the situation.

Police finally intervened after one incident that involved several days of continued abuse and exploitation, leading to the plaintiff’s arrest along with others involved.

The plaintiff asserts that she was trafficked by her abuser using the hotel’s facilities, where she was subjected to physical and sexual assaults, psychological torment, and false imprisonment. She claims the hotel operators failed in their duty to intervene or mitigate the trafficking activities, despite being aware of or should have been aware of the illegal activities. The lawsuit seeks damages for the injuries and trauma suffered as a result of the defendants’ alleged willful blindness and negligence in allowing the trafficking to occur on their property.

May 2, 2024 – Trafficking Case Dismissed in Michigan

The statute of limitations for sex trafficking cases significantly impacts the viability of lawsuits against responsible third parties, as highlighted by a recent Michigan sex abuse court decision.

In this case, a plaintiff accused multiple hotel operators, including Motel 6 and Marriott International, of facilitating her sex trafficking from 2003 to 2014.

Despite the detailed allegations, which included all the classic signs of trafficking like cash payments for rooms, frequent foot traffic, excessive use of condoms, and victims appearing fearful or physically abused, the court dismissed many of the claims. The dismissal was based on the ten-year statute of limitations, which did not cover the full period during which the alleged abuses occurred.

Only claims against one hotel – Fairfield Inn – were able to proceed because those claims were within the 10-year statute of limitations.

April 16, 2024 – Trafficking MDL Request Denied

An effort to create a nationwide sex trafficking  MDL lawsuit was turned down last week. Plaintiffs in multiple lawsuits asked to consolidate 33 cases spread across five different judicial districts into one court.

All these cases involve allegations that various hotel properties across the country were venues where sex trafficking occurred, and the hotels are being sued for damages under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. The plaintiffs claim that these hotels should have been aware of the trafficking activities and are responsible for damages.

The idea behind moving all these cases to one district is to streamline the legal process, making it more efficient and consistent across all related cases.

Does this make some sense?  Sure.  But not all plaintiffs’ lawyers agreed. Some attorneys agree with the motion and support the idea of centralizing the cases in Ohio, while others suggest Massachusetts or specific MDLs (multi-district litigation) for certain hotel brands in Ohio. Other sex trafficking lawyers for victims believed the effort at consolidation was misguided in the first place.

Previously in 2020, a similar motion to centralize some of these cases was denied because the panel felt that the issues were too diverse and specific to individual situations, making a unified proceeding impractical. They believed that any common issues were overshadowed by the unique elements of each case, such as different hotels, trafficking scenarios, and local factors.

What had changed since the last effort at a class action?  Nothing.  The panel’s decision is influenced by the lack of common defendants and the complex, varied nature of the cases, suggesting that centralizing might not add the efficiency that is hoped for.

Our take is that there are pros and cons of both, but our sex abuse lawyers believe we will get higher settlement amounts for individual victims by not having a human sex trafficking class action lawsuit.  So this loss, in our minds, is really a win for victims.

April 4, 2024 – A Loss (and a Settlement) in Ohio

In this case, the plaintiff, identified as S.C., brought a lawsuit under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act against five hotel franchisors, including Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Days Inn Worldwide, Choice Hotels International, Red Roof Inns, and Red Roof Franchising. S.C. alleged that she was trafficked for sex from 2012 to 2019 at various hotels operated by these franchisors but did not sue the individual hotels or her traffickers directly. Instead, her lawsuit targeted the hotel companies’ corporate parents and the franchisors themselves.

S.C. claimed that the signs of her trafficking were evident to the hotel employees, citing frequent linen changes, numerous used condoms, and a high volume of older male visitors to her room. She also mentioned having visible physical-abuse bruises. Despite these indicators, S.C. argued that the hotel franchisors and their corporate parents should be held liable for her trafficking because they had general knowledge of sex trafficking in the industry but did not take adequate steps to prevent it at their franchised locations.

The court, however, granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, ruling that S.C. did not provide sufficient evidence to show that the hotel franchisors had direct control over the franchisee-owned and operated hotels or that they had received specific notice of her trafficking. The court also rejected S.C.’s attempts to hold the defendants vicariously liable through theories of actual agency, apparent agency, joint employment, and joint venture, mainly due to the lack of evidence that the franchisors had the right or ability to control the day-to-day operations of the franchised hotels.

The judge is not saying the hotels cannot be held liable.  A settlement was simultaneously announced against the hotels Six Continents Hotels, Inc., and Holiday Hospitality Franchising, LLC. But plaintiff lost additional bite of the settlement apple by losing these larger defendants.

This ruling emphasizes the legal challenge of establishing direct or vicarious liability of franchisors for the actions of their franchisees in cases involving criminal activities such as sex trafficking.

April 3, 2024 – Trafficking Lawsuit Filed Against Extended Stay America 

A new sex trafficking lawsuit was filed on Monday involving a woman – we are calling K.R.M. – who is suing a group of companies associated with Extended Stay America hotels, alleging that they facilitated and benefited from her sex trafficking at one of their hotel locations.

K.R.M.’s lawsuit claims she was subjected to sex trafficking, involving force, fraud, and coercion, for financial gain by her trafficker at an Extended Stay America hotel. The complaint asserts that the defendants knew or should have known about the trafficking due to evident signs and widespread issues of trafficking within the hotel industry, yet failed to take adequate steps – or any real steps – to prevent it.

This lawsuit highlights – as so many of these cases do – the dreadful role of the hotel industry in sex trafficking.  Hotels are often used as venues for exploitation due to policies and practices that can either deter or facilitate such activities. The complaint details how traffickers exploit hotel policies and the lack of effective staff training on identifying and responding to trafficking.

April 1, 2024 – Trafficking Case Against Red Roof Inns Moves Forward

A federal judge in Ohio ruled that Red Roof Inns cannot escape sex trafficking lawsuits. U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley determined that the presented sufficient allegations that the hotel chain not only knowingly profited from the victimization but was also actively involved in a venture that violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).

One plaintiff details how she was trafficked across multiple Red Roof properties in states including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and others. She alleges that the hotel staff ignored numerous red flags indicating trafficking activities, such as frequent linen changes, large numbers of used condoms, and evidence of physical abuse.

Moreover, it’s claimed that the traffickers exploited the hotel’s Wi-Fi to advertise this woman’s services. Despite these glaring signs, the staff reportedly failed to take action to ensure her safety, including an incident where guests heard this poor woman’s screams for help, but no police were called after a room inspection.

Judge Marbley’s ruling emphasized that the victims’ allegations met the TVPRA’s requirements for a lawsuit to proceed. Specifically, the judge highlighted that this sex trafficking lawsuit alleges that  Red Roof Inns had at least constructive knowledge of the trafficking based on the overall circumstances, establishing a pattern of conduct or a tacit agreement with traffickers.

March 25, 2024 – Possible Class Action on Deck

On Thursday,  the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is set to conduct oral arguments to decide if it should merge numerous sex trafficking lawsuits against leading hotel and motel chains into a single federal judicial process. This consolidation would bring the cases under the purview of a single judge for streamlined discovery and preliminary proceedings. A similar consolidation proposal was turned down by the panel in early 2020 when the judges concluded that different U.S. District Judges across various courts could manage the coordination of the litigation on their own. At that point, the litigation encompassed only about two dozen cases nationwide. But things have quickly changed. Human sex trafficking lawsuits have exploded in the last few years.

Currently, over 1,700 plaintiffs are seeking legal action against major hotel chains, such as Super 8,  Red Roof, Hilton, Motel 6, and Best Western, accusing them of prioritizing profits over the safety of individuals subjected to sexual exploitation within their premises. The plaintiffs argue that these hotel operators are financially responsible for not seeing what they should have saw and stopped sex trafficking activities at their establishments.


Settlement Amounts of Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Sexual Abuse and Assault Lawsuits

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is conduct that involves the use of force, coercion, or deception to compel individuals into providing labor or services. It usually involves sexual exploitation. Years ago, “human trafficking” primarily referred to the illegal transportation of individuals across borders for forced labor or sexual exploitation, often exemplified by smuggling immigrants into a country and subjecting them to work in the sex industry. However, today, the legal definition of human trafficking has broadened to encompass all forms of exploitation. It extends beyond border crossings and includes any situation where individuals are coerced into servitude through threats, fraud, or other means of manipulation.

Who Can Be a Victim of Human Trafficking?

One of the biggest misconceptions about human trafficking is that its victims are solely desperate individuals from underdeveloped nations. The reality is that nearly anyone can fall prey to human trafficking, including educated, affluent American citizens. For obvious reasons, however, individuals on the lower socioeconomic spectrum are at higher risk.

Both genders can be victims of human trafficking, though women are disproportionately affected, constituting at least 70% of victims according to most estimates. Tragically, children are also frequent targets of this heinous crime.

How Human Trafficking Occurs

Human trafficking can come in a very wide arrange of shapes and forms. Coercive or deceptive transportation of victims out of their home country if the most common form of human trafficking. Sometimes this transportation happens through forcible abduction or kidnapping. More often, however, victims are induced into cooperation with promises of employment in a normal job or promises of other economic opportunities in exchange for relocating.

Whether through recruitment with false promises or forcible abduction, the victims are illegally smuggled into the United States. After they are brought into the country, the victims are extremely vulnerable because they are almost totally reliant on their captors for survival. This makes them susceptible to coercion. The traffickers use this vulnerability and reliance to push the victims into forced services, usually sexual in nature.

Industries Where Human Trafficking Occurs

Although human trafficking is usually associated with the sex industry, it actually goes well beyond that. The sex trade is undoubtedly the most direct beneficiary of human trafficking, but there are several other industries (often those with high demands for human labor) that victims of trafficking also end up in.

  • Sex Industry: A significant portion of trafficking victims are coerced into working within the sex industry, compelled to engage in prostitution or entertainment (such as internet porn).
  • Manual Labor: Trafficking victims may find themselves forced into manual labor roles, often within construction sites, factories, or under contractors.
  • Agriculture: Another big industry for trafficking victims is agriculture, particularly in regions reliant on substantial seasonal labor pools.
  • Hospitality: Victims of trafficking may also be exploited in the hospitality sector, including hotels and cleaning services.

Human Trafficking Victims Can File Civil Lawsuits

Until recently, victims of human trafficking faced limited legal options. Prosecuting human traffickers in a criminal proceeding was immensely challenging due to their elusive nature and the difficulty in providing sufficient evidence. More significantly, criminal prosecution did little to support the victims’ rehabilitation or help them economically.

Now, however, trafficking victims have an additional legal options because they file civil lawsuits against commercial entities that facilitated or profited from trafficking. Federal and state laws now empower victims to seek monetary damages from businesses that benefited financially from their exploitation. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) grants victims the right to bring civil cases against any entity or individual that knowingly profited from trafficking activities.

Trafficking Lawsuits Against Major Hotel Companies

The enactment of the TVPRA has sparked a wave of significant civil lawsuits initiated by victims of human trafficking. Over the past two years, trafficking survivors have filed suits nationwide against major hotel chains like Hilton, Marriott, and Wyndham. The new trafficking lawsuits alleged the hotel companies either knew or should have known about the presence of sex trafficking and exploitation on their premises and profited from these illicit activities. Recently, several of these lawsuits have resulted in substantial financial settlements.

Lawsuits targeting hotels for human trafficking typically arise when it’s found that the hotel was complicit in or knowingly allowed trafficking to occur under its roof. These legal actions can be initiated by trafficking survivors or government agencies. They commonly allege that the hotel failed to implement adequate measures to prevent trafficking or neglected to report suspected cases to authorities. Additionally, hotels may be held liable for damages resulting from the harm inflicted upon trafficking victims, encompassing physical and emotional suffering, lost earnings, and other related losses.

To combat human trafficking effectively, hotels are expected to adopt comprehensive anti-trafficking policies and protocols. This includes training staff to recognize and report trafficking indicators, implementing monitoring systems to detect suspicious activities, and collaborating with law enforcement in trafficking investigations. Moreover, hotels should have been familiar with resources like the End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA) and its Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, along with guidance from the Department of Homeland Security, which outline warning signs of human trafficking such as poor physical appearance, unusual surveillance, and unusual requests for housekeeping services without room entry. Failure to implement these measures may render hotels liable for their role in facilitating trafficking.

Contact Us About Human Trafficking Lawsuits

If you have been the victim of human trafficking, contact our sex abuse lawyers today. Call us at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

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