Three major hotel chains — Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, dba La Quinta Inn & Suites; Hilton Worldwide Holdings, dba Doubletree by Hilton; and Choice Hotels-Comfort Inn brands – have been named defendants in a trio of new sex trafficking lawsuits filed last month in Texas federal court.
According to BisNow.com, each lawsuit names a “Jane Doe” as plaintiff and alleges that management and staff of various locations allowed sex trafficking to continue at the sites, even after observing predatory behavior on the premises. The complaints further claim that the hotels served as perpetrators under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act and therefore “benefitted, by receiving financial and other compensation, through its participation in a venture involving the trafficking, harboring, and maintenance of human trafficking victims in exchange for financial benefits.”
The first of the three sex trafficking lawsuits alleges the plaintiff was forced to engage in commercial sex acts at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel at 8181 Airport Blvd. in Houston, Texas
The second claims that staff at the La Quinta Inn at 1625 West Loop South, also in Houston, ignored obvious signs of trafficking when the plaintiff was sold for sex in 2012, including excessive male traffic outside hotel rooms, customers paying for rooms with cash or prepaid cards and minors paying for hotel rooms.
The third complaint names a minor child as plaintiff, and alleges that she was trafficked at a Choice Hotel (branded as a Comfort Inn) at 6687 Southwest Freeway at Westpark Houston.
According to the Polaris Project, 92% of the calls received by the National Human Trafficking hotline between December 2007 and February 2015 involved reports of sex trafficking taking place at hotels. Hotels have also accounted for 90% of sex trafficking involving children.
Signs that sex traffickers are conducting business at a hotel include:
The Texas cases are among a growing number of sex trafficking lawsuits that target major hotel chains. Later this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation will hear oral arguments on a proposal to centralize all such federal claims before a single judge in one U.S. District Court.