United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Deavers Magistrate Judge.
OPINION & ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants', G6
Hospitality, LLC, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Inc., Shahil,
LLC, and Northland Hotel, Inc., Motions to Dismiss. (ECF Nos.
29, 30, 21, 19). For the following reasons, Defendants'
Motions are hereby DENIED.
H.H., alleges she was trafficked for sex from approximately
March 2015 to October 2015 at Motel 6 and Super 8 hotel
locations in Columbus. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 45). Plaintiff
now seeks to hold these hotels liable under the Trafficking
Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”),
18 U.S.C. § 1595(a).
alleges that these hotel Defendants knew that sex trafficking
occurred frequently on their properties and failed to prevent
it, and also that they knew or should have known of
H.H.'s trafficking. Plaintiff points to behavior that she
alleges hotel staff should have recognized as signs of her
trafficking: “bottles of lubricants, boxes of condoms,
excessive requests for towels and linens, cash payments,
” and physical signs of human trafficking including
“branding, restraints, bruises, physical
deterioration.” (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 46). Plaintiff
alleges that while she was at each hotel property she
“was routinely escorted by her trafficker to the front
desk to hand deliver cash payments.” (Id.).
She also alleges that she was discovered by the hotel
cleaning staff at the Motel 6 Columbus “tied to the
guest room bed” and that “despite her desperate
pleas for help, the staff ignored her.” (Id.
at ¶ 47). At the Super 8 Columbus, she similarly alleges
housekeeping staff discovered her chained up in the bathroom
and ignored her pleas for help. (Id. at ¶ 48).
Plaintiff finally escaped in October of 2015. H.H. alleges
that these hotels and their parent companies did not take
adequate measures to prevent human trafficking and were
“willfully blind to the indicia of human
trafficking.” (Id. at ¶ 46).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court may dismiss a cause of action under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for “failure to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.” Such a motion
“is a test of the plaintiff's cause of action as
stated in the complaint, not a challenge to the
plaintiff's factual allegations.” Golden v.
City of Columbus, 404 F.3d 950, 958-59 (6th Cir. 2005).
The Court must construe the complaint in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Total Benefits
Planning Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue
Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008). If more than
one inference may be drawn from an allegation, the Court must
resolve the conflict in favor of the plaintiff. Mayer v.
Mylod, 988 F.2d 635, 638 (6th Cir. 1993). The Court
cannot dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim
“unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can
prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would
entitle him to relief.” Id. The Court is not
required, however, to accept as true mere legal conclusions
unsupported by factual allegations. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d
868 (2009). Although liberal, Rule 12(b)(6) requires more
than bare assertions of legal conclusions. Allard v.
Weitzman, 991 F.2d 1236, 1240 (6th Cir. 1993) (citation
omitted). Generally, a complaint must contain a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A
complaint's factual allegations “must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). It must contain
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. A claim is
plausible when it contains “factual content that allows
the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant
is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 678.
LAW & ANALYSIS
October 7, 2019 Opinion and Order in M.A. v. Wyndham
Hotels & Resorts, Inc., this Court undertook an
extensive analysis in a related case of the Trafficking
Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”)
and its application to civil liability of hotel defendants
for sex trafficking. See M.A. v. Wyndham Hotels &
Resorts, Inc., No. 2:19-cv-849, 2019 WL 4929297 (S.D.
Ohio Oct. 7, 2019).
M.A., H.H. brings claims under 18 U.S.C. § 1595,
which sets forth the standard for civil liability under the
TVPRA. This Court held in M.A. that § 1595(a)
can be a standalone claim, and civil Defendants need not have
committed the underlying criminal sex trafficking offense
under § 1591. 2019 WL 4929297 at *2 (citing Cong.
Research Serv., R40190, The William Wilberforce Trafficking
Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (P.L.
110-457): Criminal Law Provisions, at 16 (Jan. 29, 2009) (the
amendments to the TVPA “create civil liability both
for those who face criminal liability for their profiteering
and those who do not.”); Plaintiff A v.
Schair, No. 2:11-cv-00145-WCO, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
197819, at *6 (N.D.Ga. Sept. 9, 2014) (the 2008 amendments
broadened the parties who could be sued for trafficking
violations from only the perpetrator to “anyone who
‘knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving
anything of value from participation in a venture which that
person knew or should have known has engaged in an act in
violation of this chapter'”)). This Court likewise
finds that H.H.'s allegation that she is a victim of
trafficking under § 1591 is enough sufficiently to plead
that she is “a victim of this chapter” pursuant
to § 1595(a) in order to survive a motion to dismiss.
Civil Liability Under the TVPRA § 1595
requirements for liability under § 1595(a) on a
“beneficiary” theory can be stated as follows:
(1) the person or entity must “knowingly benefit,
financially or by receiving anything of value, ” (2)
from participating in a venture, (3) that the “person
knew or should have known has engaged in an act in violation
of this chapter.” 18 U.S.C. § 1595(a).