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A.B. v. Marriott Int'l, Inc.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

April 22, 2020, Decided; April 22, 2020, Filed

CIVIL ACTION NO. 19-5770

Opinion

MEMORANDUM

KEARNEY, J.

April 22, 2020

Approximately twelve years ago, Congress added language to its prohibition on sex trafficking law allowing victims to seek a monetary remedy from a person or legitimate business which knowingly benefitted, financially or by receiving anything of value, from participating in a venture which it knew or should have known engaged in sex trafficking. In the last several months, sex trafficking victims have filed over twenty cases around the country against hotels. We today address A.B.'s claims against Marriott International arising from trafficking of her at three Philadelphia airport hotels from 2009 to 2011. She sues under both the federal law and Pennsylvania's human trafficking statute which requires knowledge. Marriott is the franchisor; it does not own these three hotels. It now moves to dismiss arguing the sex [*2]  trafficking laws cannot, as a matter of law, apply to it. We agree A.B. does not plead facts after two attempts allowing us to reasonably infer Marriott knew of sex trafficking victimizing her. But A.B. sufficiently pleads specific facts from which we can reasonably infer Marriott, under an actual agency theory subject to discovery, knowingly benefitted from participating in a venture which it should have known engaged in her trafficking. This is all Congress requires a victim to plead. But she does not timely plead her Pennsylvania claim, nor does she plead facts allowing us to infer Marriott's knowledge under Pennsylvania's human trafficking statute. We proceed to discovery on Marriott's potential liability if a jury finds it should have known of the sex trafficking in the three airport hotels.

I. Alleged Facts

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70644 *

A.B. v. MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC.

CORE TERMS

trafficking, hotels, sex, venture, alleges, knowingly, argues, district court, benefits, Airport, rooms, motion to dismiss, cases, civil remedy, staff, facilitating, fails, amended complaint, alleged facts, franchisee, pleads, apparent agency, civil liability, participated, servitude, advertises, sexual, discovery, marketed, harbor