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According to allegations raised in a sex trafficking lawsuit filed in Arkansis, a woman indicates the management of a Quality Inn hotel ignored obvious signs that their facility was being used to force women into sexual slavery.
The original complaint (pdf) was brought last year, but was updated this week to expand the list of defendants. The lawsuit was originally brought against Seven Star Hotels Group, Inc., but now also includes former hotel manager Shri Jinasha.
A woman identified only as “Jane Doe” brought the case in Pulaski County Circuit Court in Arkansas, indicating the hotel management was aware of abuse and cries for help at the Quality Inn & Suites on W. 65th Street in Arkansas, which occurred from May until July 2014.
The plaintiff indicates that inside the Quality Inn hotel she was forced to sexually service nearly a dozen individuals per day, and was held against her will by a known sex trafficker. The lawsuit states she suffered beatings and other physical assaults, often screaming for help from hotel workers who ignored her.
An entire floor of the Quality Inn hotel was essentially a brothel, according to the lawsuit, where women were held against their will, abused and forced to sexually serve others, while the hotel management profited from the arrangement.
“During the time that Plaintiff was at the Quality Inn & Suites, the entire fourth floor was used for human trafficking,” the lawsuit states. “Every room on the fourth floor was occupied by other adult and minor females who were being trafficked and abused just like the Plaintiff.”
The lawsuit states it was utterly impossible for hotel staff not to know what was occurring, as the rooms had essentially been turned into apartments by sex traffickers. In addition, constant loud music, and the traffic to and from the floor were all clear signs of the situation, the complaint states.
Quality Inn hotel staff were allegedly complicit in the sex trafficking activities, allowing phones on the fourth floor to be disconnected, so that trafficking victims could not call out, and the hotel management agreed to only clean or enter the rooms when the traffickers gave the all-clear.
“Front desk workers, managers, and other Quality Inn & Suites employees put their heads down or looked away anytime the Plaintiff walked by them,” the lawsuit states. “No one from the hotel staff ever offered help or assistance to Plaintiff, even when she was clearly injured from being physically assaulted or obviously in danger.”
In recent months, about two dozen nearly identical claims have been brought against the operators of Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham, Best Western, Red Roof Inn and other popular hotel chains, alleging that the desire for profits has been placed before human misery in facilities nationwide, by failing to enact standards and procedures that would have prevented sex traffickers from openly using their rooms, often involving minor children.
Given similar questions of fact and law presented in lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, a motion was filed last month that seeks to centralize the hotel sex trafficking lawsuits as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
In a hearing order (PDF) issued on December 19, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation scheduled oral arguments on the motion for January 30, at the Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse in Tampa, Florida.