Human Sex Trafficking Lawsuits Against Hotels

Sexual Assault Lawyers Who Represent Victims of Sex Trafficking in California

Sex Trafficking Lawyers at Potter Handy LLP are equipped with the knowledge and resources to review your case and fight for justice. Call us at (415) 534-1911.

In recent years, more than 1,500 claims have been investigated and filed across the country, accusing major hotel chains such as Marriott and Hilton of ignoring and profiting from sex trafficking on their property. The lawsuits, which involve dozens of hotel chains, seek monetary damages as well as policies to prevent human trafficking at corporate-owned and franchised locations.

Below is a list of national hotel chains named in lawsuits that are accused of being complicit in sex trafficking:

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

The lawsuits allege that the hotel chains knew or should have known that sex trafficking of humans was occurring on their premises. According to the lawsuits, these accusations are supported by circumstantial evidence like reports of police busts and online reviews that mention the alleged illegal activity. Furthermore, the lawsuits make use of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which permits civil suits against individuals and entities with reasonable knowledge of trafficking and profiting from it.

The legal team at Potter Handy Law Firm is investigating sex trafficking cases against hotel chains. We believe that thousands of victims need legal representation and deserve justice against these hotel chains and other entities that can be named as accessories to the crimes. Call us at (415) 534-1911.


Identifying Human Trafficking

Human trafficking has become a global epidemic and is one of the world’s fastest-growing crimes. The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking estimates that 2.5 million people are forced into labor, including sexual exploitation, at any given time.

These are the major forms of human trafficking:

Sex Trafficking

This occurs when adults are forced into prostitution or other sex acts for money.  Nearly nine in ten reported human trafficking cases involve sex trafficking—and that share has risen. Between 2015 and 2021, the share of human trafficking cases that involved sex trafficking grew from 87% to 89% in California and from 85% to 88% nationally.

Child Sex Trafficking

This occurs when children under 18 are recruited and forced into sex acts in exchange for money, and it also usually involves food, clothing, shelter, drugs, and alcohol.  Common sex acts include child prostitution, child sex tourism, child pornography, and forced marriage.  Many victims are runaway girls who have already suffered sexual abuse as children. The pimp or abuser may start by befriending the child, who looks up to them as someone who will take care of them. The pimp uses psychological and physical controls, including threats, violence, or drugs, to make victims feel trapped and powerless.

Forced Labor

Sometimes victims are made to work through coercion, threats, or deception.  Forced labor networks thrive in highly populated states like California that have large immigrant communities. Victims are forced into begging, domestic servitude, and forced labor in restaurants.  Forced child labor occurs when children under 18 are the victims.

Bonded Labor or Debt Bondage

This happens when humans are forced into labor to pay off a debt that they or their ancestors incurred.  Victims often must work under conditions which make it impossible to pay off the debts.

Domestic Servitude

Some people are forced to work in a private residence and are forbidden to leave their jobs.  Often, women and children agree to come to the United States to do domestic work, but when they arrive, they find themselves physically abused, exploited, and virtually enslaved. They have no way to leave and exist on their own, so they are held in domestic servitude as maids or nannies, often in homes in California suburbs.

Trafficking in Human Organs

As hard as it is to imagine, this type of human trafficking involves the harvesting and sale of organs from unwilling donors or donors who sell their organs illegally. An estimated $50 billion is collected annually by organ traffickers around the world.


Filing Sex Trafficking Lawsuits

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was signed into law by Congress in 2000. This law strengthens federal efforts to combat human trafficking by reauthorizing existing programs and launching new enforcement, accountability, and prevention initiatives.

The TVPA takes measures to hold accountable corporate entities, such as hotel chains, whose actions directly or indirectly support human sex trafficking. In other words, the laws permit both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens who are victims of human sex trafficking to seek benefits and be protected from deportation. Under these laws, victims may file civil lawsuits against those responsible, including organizations that enable, harbor, hold, facilitate, or profit monetarily from human trafficking. Sadly, approximately 80% of arrests for sex trafficking are made in or around hotels.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of human sex trafficking and you believe that a business, such as a hotel or listing service, profited from such heinous acts, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking monetary compensation. To protect the victims’ identities, these lawsuits can be filed anonymously. Call us at (415) 534-1911.


California Statute of Limitations for Civil Claims for Sexual Assault

The statute of limitations for filing a civil claim for sexual assault in California depends on the age of the survivor at the time of the assault.

Childhood Sexual Assault: If the sexual assault occurred when the survivor was younger than 18 years old, he or she is eligible for protection. California law permits a survivor to take legal action until the later of:

  • The date the survivor turns 40 years old; or
  • Within five years of discovering that “psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual assault.”

Adult Sexual Assault: Depending on when the sexual assault occurred, the recent extensions of California’s statute of limitations affect civil claims for adult sexual assault.

For sexual assaults that occurred on or after January 1, 2019

California law allows survivors to file a claim within ten years of the date of the sexual assault or within three years of discovering they were injured as a result of the sexual assault.

For sexual assaults that occurred between January 1, 2009, and January 1, 2019

On January 1, 2023, the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, otherwise known as California Assembly Bill 2777, went into effect. This law opens up a three-year “lookback window” permitting survivors to file civil claims for sexual assault beginning on January 1, 2023 and ending on December 31, 2026.

This three-year window applies to sexual assault committed on or after January 1, 2009, with the exception of claims that were litigated to finality in court, or compromised by a settlement agreement, before January 1, 2023.

If a survivor was sexually assaulted in California between January 1, 2009 and January 1, 2019, the statute of limitations for their civil claim for sexual assault may have expired: this new law may allow survivors to take legal action for otherwise-barred civil claims by “reviving” those claims during this three-year lookback window, which ends on December 31, 2026.


Who Can Be Sued for Sexual Assault in California?

In California, survivors may file a lawsuit against the perpetrator of sexual assault. Depending on the circumstances, survivors may also be able to file a lawsuit against a third party, institution, employer, or business. Employers, hospitals and other medical providers, and schools, including K-12 and higher education institutions, are among the organizations that may be sued in a civil claim for sexual assault.

Entity “Cover Up”: The Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2023, also revived civil claims for sexual assault of adults when one or more entities are responsible for damages and the entity engaged in a “cover up” (as defined) until December 31, 2023. In other words, survivors may now have a one-year window to file civil claims for sexual assault against entities that “covered up” sexual assault, despite the statute of limitations having expired.

The term “cover up” is defined as a “concerted effort to hide evidence relating to a sexual assault that incentivizes individuals to remain silent or prevents information relating to a sexual assault from becoming public or being disclosed to the plaintiff, including, but not limited to, the use of nondisclosure agreements or confidentiality agreements.”

The law reinstates claims related to the sexual assault, including, but not limited to, wrongful termination and sexual harassment. However, these claims must be filed between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023. If you believe you have a claim that may be affected by this expanded statute of limitations, please contact one of our attorneys to discuss your potential claim.

We acknowledge that survivors reading this page may experience a range of feelings regarding legal action against their perpetrators. The compassionate attorneys at Potter Handy Law Firm have experience representing survivors of sexual assault and can assist you in deciding whether to pursue legal action. Call us at (415) 534-1911.


Contact Our Sexual Assault Lawyers Who Represent Victims of Sex Trafficking in California

All aspects of the victims’ lives are impacted by sexual exploitation. If you or someone you care about has been a victim of human sex trafficking, it is essential that you realize you are not alone. You should contact an experienced California human sex trafficking attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights and seek justice against all responsible parties, including hotel chains where the heinous acts occurred. The legal team at Potter Handy Law Firm will fight for your rights.

For more information or to consult with an experienced California human sex trafficking attorney, please call Potter Handy Law Firm at (415) 534-1911.