We Sue Hotels For Sex Trafficking on Behalf of Sexual Assault Survivors

April 1, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
We Sue Hotels For Sex Trafficking on Behalf of Sexual Assault Survivors

Hotels Being Sued For Sex Trafficking By Personal Injury Victims

Communities and lives are regularly harmed by the continued horrors of human trafficking that plague cities throughout the United States. This illegal enterprise that makes a profit off of the suffering of human beings has long permeated beyond the fringes of our communities. 

While there are several forms of human trafficking, sex trafficking is considered one of the most harmful and reprehensible crimes against another human being. In general, since the vast majority of human and sex trafficking defendants are male, these criminal and negligent acts are usually perpetrated against women and children.

Learn about your rights on human trafficking, forced labor, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking. For a free consultation with Dolman Law Group, call (727) 451-6900 or fill out our online contact form today.

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Update on Hotel Sex Trafficking and Potential MDL

What Kind of Attorney Handles Sexual Abuse Cases?

Numerous sex trafficking lawsuits have been filed against various nationwide hotel chains, including Hilton, Red Roof, Best Western, and others. These lawsuits allege that these hotels failed to prevent sexual exploitation on their premises, basically prioritizing their profits over the safety and well-being of vulnerable women and men.

The newest update centers around whether to consolidate hundreds of lawsuits into one case, known as an MDL, which would streamline the early parts of the legal process. In some cases, both parties are in favor of an MDL because it saves everyone time and money. But in this case, there has been resistance from some of the defendants.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), as you might have guessed, decided whether many cases should be consolidated into one based on all the evidence and circumstances. The JPML heard arguments on March 28, but it will be a few days or weeks until we hear the results.

Previously, a similar MDL request was rejected, but the number of claims has since grown significantly.

Sex Trafficking Signs That Hotels And Motels Should Look For

Sex Trafficking Signs That Hotels And Motels Should Look For

These lawsuits often focus on how hotels may have clear signs of human trafficking occurring on their premises yet fail to take action. Signs of human trafficking are contextual, and no single sign is a clear indicator that something is wrong. We are more focused on viewing the totality of the circumstances and whether it was readily apparent that sex traffickers or human traffickers were freely operating at the motel or hotel. 

Hotels should notice the following signs and report something may be wrong when more than one is present:

  • Large numbers of non-hotel guests consisting of mostly men frequenting the same room
  • Women or young children checked in with no I.D. or belongings at odd hours, such as children checked in during a school night
  • Guests who may be disheveled, tired, inappropriately dressed, malnourished, scared, nervous, confused, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Dominant figures that will speak on other’s behalf and constantly monitor them with a possible noticeable age difference or no clear relationship between them
  • Housekeeping noticing large amounts of condoms in the trash, sex paraphernalia, alcohol, drugs, or cash
  • The room in question may forego all housekeeping for the duration of the stay or request unusually large numbers of sheets and towels

Hotels may also be considered negligent in a lawsuit over sex trafficking if it is discovered they have not trained staff to detect these signs and properly report suspicions of sex trafficking, human trafficking, or sexual exploitation. Negligence may also be exhibited by a failure to act on reports due to a failure of the reporting system or management.

Our hotel human trafficking lawyers will learn the existing safety protocols and the training staff members receive in spotting sex traffickers and sexual exploitation victims. Many of these motels, often owned by or under the umbrella of commercial chains, are located within short proximity and even adjacent to commercial sex-related businesses, such as strip clubs and illicit massage parlors.

Alarming Sex Trafficking Statistics

According to sex trafficking statistics gathered by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, prosecutions for human and sex trafficking in the United States have more than doubled during the past ten years. Of those prosecutions, 92% of the people charged in federal court for human trafficking in one recent year were male, and 60% of those defendants were Caucasian.

In that same year, 201 people were charged with sex trafficking, slavery, or forced labor. In that group, 77% of the defendants were male, and 58% were Black. At the end of 2021, state prisons throughout the country housed 1,657 people convicted of the charge of human trafficking.

Why Are Hotels Being Sued For Sex Trafficking?

Why Are Hotels Being Sued For Sex Trafficking?

Hotels are regular sites favored by human traffickers and sex traffickers for their illegal activities. This has raised questions leading to legal action regarding the profit from and contribution towards assisting or ignoring sex traffickers.

In the past few years, over 1,500 sex trafficking claims have been reported and investigated around the country. Some sex trafficking survivors are bringing lawsuits claiming various hotel chains are liable for the injuries and damages suffered because the hotels ignored sex trafficking signs or failed to take action when faced with information that sex trafficking was happening on their property.

These pending legal actions seek payment of monetary damages to the survivors and sometimes the implementation of corporate policies to help detect and prevent sex trafficking at hotel businesses and their franchised locations. Some of the major hotel chains that have been named as defendants in hotel sex trafficking lawsuits include:

  • Hilton
  • Marriott
  • Wyndham
  • Best Western
  • Choice Hotels
  • Super 8
  • Motel 6
  • Red Lion
  • Days Inn
  • Extended Stay America

Some of these hotels have been subject to police raids or received social media reviews that revealed potentially illegal behavior that is now being investigated. If you or someone you love is a hotel sex trafficking survivor, contact a dedicated sex trafficking lawyer for more information.

Victims of Human and Sex Trafficking Deserve Justice

Survivors of human trafficking have the right to ensure that those whose negligence aided their captors and contributed to their suffering are held accountable for their actions via lawsuits. Hotels are one of the most common sites of human trafficking, where individuals kept in captivity are forced into sexual slavery for the profit of their captors. 

Hotels are expected to offer guests a high degree of privacy and are not expected to know every detail of their guest's activities. However, the extent of reported human trafficking activity by survivors and investigators paints a picture of negligence. When businesses disregard human rights violations, it leaves them liable for the suffering and damages of sexual exploitation victims. 

The Human and Sex Trafficking Laws That Protect Survivors

Slavery is still a modern problem for hundreds of thousands of human trafficking victims each year in the United States. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “severe forms of human trafficking” as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for:

  • Sex trafficking, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; 
  • Labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery

This law is focused on victims’ protection and human rights. Major economies like tourism and agriculture can feed the issue of human trafficking. Tourism creates an environment where human traffickers can offer their captives to the many travelers who come to our state. 

The agriculture industry has a demand for cheap and plentiful labor that traffickers can supply. Many of the folks willing to work for unconscionably low wages often fall victim to forced labor and other human rights violations.

Who is at Risk for Sex Trafficking?

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, where people are dehumanized and treated as property. People who are trafficked with the intent of sexual exploitation are often physically abused and, in many cases, killed by their captors for profit. Sadly, as mentioned earlier, the people who make up the majority of sex traffic victims are children and women. 

Who is at Risk for Human Trafficking?

However, human trafficking can involve any gender, age, sexuality, race, or nationality. United States citizens and people trafficked across the country's borders can be victims of human and labor trafficking and sexual exploitation. 

Trafficking survivors are helping us to learn more and more about how they were recruited and the lax security measures taken by motels and hotels. Knowledge is a tool that offers trafficking victims protection from violations of their basic human rights.

Why are Hotels and Motels the Most Common Places for Sex Trafficking in the United States?

Sex trafficking can occur anywhere, but some places are more common than others. Sex trafficking commonly occurs at private residences, business fronts, and brothels, but no setting is utilized for this crime more than hotels and motels. These sites provide remote, discreet, and convenient means for sex trafficking. 

When someone thinks of sex trafficking at a hotel, they no doubt imagine a run-down and ramshackle business on the wrong side of town harboring a number of suspicious activities. The reality is that human traffickers utilize hotels and motels of all kinds, ranging from expensive suites to the common motel frequented by the average traveler.

Major hotel and motel chains are often the sites of terrible sex trafficking operations right under the noses of hotel guests. Recognizable chains such as La Quinta, Comfort Inn, and Hilton have been the sites of many human trafficking operations. Law enforcement crackdowns and testimonies from sex trafficking survivors have brought the negligent acts of these businesses to the attention of authorities.

Recent Lawsuits Involving Hotels Being Sued For Sex Trafficking

Many people manage to escape and survive captivity at the hands of human traffickers. They have assisted authorities in tracking down and apprehending these criminals. After going through the terrible sex trafficking conditions of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse and the threat of death, survivors have to face a number of sexual abuse damages

Criminal prosecution of traffickers puts them behind bars but does not offer any compensation for the damages a person may face due to human trafficking. Therefore, they must file a civil lawsuit to seek financial justice against corporations complicit in human and sex trafficking.

How a Hotel Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Works

Those who endured captivity, forced labor, and exploitation at the hands of human traffickers may be able to take legal action against the hotels or motels that were the site of the trafficking operation. This type of lawsuit was first filed after a woman named Lisa Richio was forced into sexual slavery in 2011 but managed to escape her captor. This led to his arrest and a lawsuit in 2015 against the motel where she was trafficked.

Federal Lawsuit Protects Survivors of Sex Traffickers

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) penalizes parties who enable or are complicit in sex trafficking activities. Under this Act, Ms. Richio claimed that the motel financially benefited from her being sexually trafficked. 

The basis of their liability was not based solely on the sex trafficking occurring on the premises. Rather, the motel failed to be aware and act to stop these activities in the presence of clear indications human trafficking was occurring. The suit was settled several years later for an undisclosed amount.

Many Future Lawsuits Involving Hotels Being Sued for Sex Trafficking are Expected

As a result of the lawsuit filed by Richio, thousands of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and forced labor survivors have filed lawsuits against the hotels and motels that allegedly aided these crimes through their negligence. In 2019, 125 hotel and motel-related entities were sued in state and federal courts alone by trafficking survivors.

Hilton Hotel Sex Trafficking 2023 Lawsuits Filed

Intercontinental and Best Western Also Accused of Profiting from Sex Trafficking

The major hotel brands Hilton, Intercontinental, and Best Western have been accused of allowing and profiting from sex trafficking in numerous locations across the United States. In 2019, thirteen women made accusations against these hotel chains for ignoring signs of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation on their properties.

Lawyers representing these young women exploited by sex traffickers claim the hotels “derived profits and benefitted financially” by allowing sex trafficking on their properties. One of the women who filed a sex trafficking lawsuit was held captive at multiple Wyndham Hotel locations for six weeks in 2012. She received physical abuse that resulted in breaking her nose twice, permanent lip scarring, and a facial infection.

Statements from Best Western, Hilton, and Intercontinental have condemned the practice of human trafficking. However, plaintiffs and their lawyers still allege that “these hotels knowingly put their own profits over the protection of the children, teenagers and young women who were being sold for sex at their hotels.”

Over 40 Human Trafficking Lawsuits Filed in April 2023

Hotel chains, including Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Red Roof Inns, and Choice Hotels International, were named as defendants in over 40 recent human trafficking lawsuits. Plaintiffs allege these hotel chains allowed for and profited from human trafficking on their premises.

Steve Babin, the lawyer representing these plaintiffs, began helping sex trafficking clients against these hotels in 2019. His clients “have horror stories where people were handcuffed to toilets and hotel staff comes in and nobody does anything about it.” The first of these sex trafficking trials will go to court in early 2024.

Social Media Is the Most Common Tool Used by Sex Traffickers

The origin of most sex trafficking cases is social media. It is utilized by traffickers to seek fresh victims and lure individuals under false pretenses. Traffickers will solicit young women via their social media profiles and make promises of a better life and much higher wages. 

Such promises soon become lies as the individual becomes a victim of sexual exploitation. Traffickers are known to restrict the victims' social media access in an effort to cut them off from the outside world.

What Monetary Damages are Available in a Human Trafficking Lawsuit?

Human trafficking victims can experience damages that affect their health, emotional well-being, and ability to earn a living wage. Filing a human trafficking lawsuit can allow a survivor to pursue compensation for the economic and non-economic losses incurred by this traumatic ordeal.

Economic damages, also known as special damages, are those with a specific financial value that can be calculated through a bill or with the help of an economist. Non-economic damages are intangible losses related to the negative effects on a survivor’s quality of life and mental health. A human trafficking lawyer can use certain calculation formulas to determine the emotional cost of your human trafficking incident.

The following are some human trafficking damages you could pursue in a lawsuit:

Trust the Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Attorneys at Dolman Law Group

If you or a loved one are a survivor of sex trafficking and believe a hotel or motel is liable for the damages you suffered because of their negligent actions, do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group. Our attorneys are ready to provide a free consultation where you can share the details of your case, and we can provide information about your legal options. 

Dolman Law Group is a nationally recognized law firm that takes great pride in representing crime and injury victims in their effort to obtain financial justice. Our law firm has the necessary financial resources to take on corporate giants. Learn more about working with us by reading our clients' reviews on Google and social media.

Keep in mind that trafficking cases are on the rise. The number of lawsuits increases each year, and there are presently over 1,000 trafficking cases and commercial sexual exploitation actions at the Federal and State level. At its core, forced labor, human trafficking, and sex trafficking are violations of our essential human rights and can affect all races, genders, and ages.

A Law Firm With Extensive Experience Representing Injury Victims

Dolman Law Group has been seeking justice for those harmed by individual or corporate negligence for years. We ensure our clients receive compensation for the damages they unjustly suffered by ensuring their cases are handled by attorneys who will fight for success. Our smaller firm provides top-notch experienced legal representation with the resources one would expect from a large law firm. 

At Dolman Law Group, we promise your case will be handled in a sensitive, confidential, and professional manner by attorneys who will guide you every step of the way. Learn more about your potential rights by reviewing our awareness initiatives regarding human trafficking, forced labor, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking on social media. For a free consultation with Dolman Law Group, you can call our office at (727) 451-6900 or fill out a contact form online

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Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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