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M.A. v. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc.

United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division

October 7, 2019, Decided; October 7, 2019, Filed

Case No. 2:19-CV-849

Opinion

 [*962]  OPINION & ORDER

This matter is before the Court on Defendants', Buckeye Hospitality, Inc., First Hotel Management, LLC, Columbus Hospitality, LLC, Krrish Lodging, LLC, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Inc., and Choice Hotels International, Inc., Motions to Dismiss. (ECF Nos. 39, 40, 42, 43, 52, 53). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motions are hereby DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, M.A., was trafficked for sex from "the spring of 2014 until August 2015." (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 51). She alleges that this trafficking [**4]  took place at several Days Inn by Wyndham, Comfort Inn, and Crowne Plaza locations in Columbus. (Id.). Plaintiff now seeks to hold these hotels liable under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act ("TVPRA"), 18 U.S.C. § 1595(a).

Plaintiff alleges that these hotel Defendants knew or should have known M.A.'s trafficking was happening on their properties. Plaintiff points to behavior that she alleges hotel staff should have recognized as signs of her trafficking: her trafficker asked for rooms near exits, "the trash cans in the rooms in which M.A. was trafficked would contain an extraordinary number of used condoms," and M.A. was told to decline housekeeping, the rooms "were frequently paid for with cash." (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 52). M.A. asserts other "obvious signs of human trafficking" including "physical deterioration, no eye contact, and duration of stay" and "bottles of lubricants, boxes of condoms, used condoms in the trash, excessive requests for towels and linens, [and] cash payments." (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 53). Plaintiff alleges that, while she was at each hotel property, "the hotel staff would have or should have observed visible physical changes, such as bruising," (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 54) and that [**5]  "[d]espite her desperate pleas and screams for help, after being beaten or choked at the Defendants' hotel properties, the hotel staff ignored her and did nothing to prevent the ongoing and obvious torture she endured." (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 55). Plaintiff finally escaped in August of 2015, and her trafficker has been sentenced. M.A. alleges that these hotel brands—Wyndham, Choice Hotels, and IHG did not take adequate measures to prevent human trafficking.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

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425 F. Supp. 3d 959 *; 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173675 **; 2019 WL 4929297

M.A., et al., Plaintiffs, v. WYNDHAM HOTELS & RESORTS, INC., et al., Defendants.

Subsequent History: Later proceeding at H.H v. G6 Hosp., LLC, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211090 (S.D. Ohio, Dec. 6, 2019)

Motion denied by M.A. v. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211324 (S.D. Ohio, Dec. 9, 2019)

Transfer denied by In re Hotel Indus. Sex Trafficking Litig., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19882 (J.P.M.L., Feb. 5, 2020)

Adopted by M.A. v. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51485 (S.D. Ohio, Mar. 25, 2020)

Motion denied by M.A. v. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63768 (S.D. Ohio, Apr. 13, 2020)

Objection overruled by, Objection sustained by M.A. v. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73337 (S.D. Ohio, Apr. 27, 2020)

CORE TERMS

trafficking, hotel, allegations, venture, sex, staff, sexual, argues, rooms, actual knowledge, blindness, benefits, participated, willful, notice, civil liability, knowingly, rented, join, motion to dismiss, joint employer, agency relationship, necessary party, hotel property, hotel owner, reckless disregard, perpetrator, reasons, motel