Updated: Red Roof Inn settles sex trafficking case on eve of trial

Alleged victims wanted hundreds of millions of dollars
Red Roof Inn has settled a civil sex trafficking case on the eve of trial in Atlanta. (Courtesy Red Roof Inn)

Red Roof Inn has settled a civil sex trafficking case on the eve of trial in Atlanta. (Courtesy Red Roof Inn)

Red Roof Inn has settled allegations it participated in and profited from years of sex trafficking at two Atlanta-area hotels, on the eve of a trial due to start in a federal court on Monday.

The settlement came over the weekend in a civil case brought by four women who alleged they were the victims of sex trafficking at Red Roof Inn hotels on Corporate Plaza in Smyrna and North Druid Hills Road in Buckhead between 2010 and 2017.

Red Roof Inn companies headquartered in Ohio and Texas were part of sweeping sex trafficking litigation filed in 2019 in Georgia by the four Jane Doe plaintiffs, whose identities were protected. Related cases previously resolved before trial involved claims against companies behind Hilton, Wyndham, Extended Stay America, La Quinta, Choice, Microtel, and Ramada-branded hotels.

In the case against Red Roof Inn companies, including Red Roof Inns Inc and Red Roof Franchising LLC, the plaintiffs each sought damages of up to $150 million.

Red Roof Inn told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution it condemns sex trafficking in all forms. The hotel chain said Monday that it mandates human trafficking training for its employees and independent franchisees in an effort to identify and report trafficking, and is working with hospitality industry organizations to prevent the criminal activity.

“The parties came to a mutual resolution of this matter to avoid further litigation,” Red Roof Inn said.

The attorneys in the case did not immediately respond Monday to questions about the settlement.

Claims included violations of the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The trial was expected to last up to three weeks and potentially involve the testimony of more than 100 witnesses.

Red Roof Inn knew its hotels were being used for sex trafficking, and profited from the practice, plaintiffs alleged. The hotel chain was accused of negligently failing to keep its premises safe.

The plaintiffs claimed they were repeatedly tortured, beaten, drugged and raped at the Red Roof Inn hotels, which they said were commonly known as sex trafficking venues. The Jane Does alleged they were also traded among traffickers.

Red Roof Inn employees warned traffickers of any law enforcement activity or complaints from other hotel guests about evidence of trafficking and some hotel employees paid for sex from the plaintiffs, they alleged.

“At a point in time, most of the Smyrna Red Roof’s business came from traffickers renting hotel rooms,” one of the plaintiffs said in her complaint. “The Smyrna Red Roof was full of girls hanging over balconies to advertise, and traffickers directing commercial sex buyers to hotel rooms. There were often more than 100 buyers at the hotel in a single day. Hotel employees also saw traffickers openly beat victims in the public parking lot.”

Red Roof Inn denied the allegations. The hotel chain said in case filings that the Smyrna property at issue was purchased in 2012 by an independent franchisee, Varahi Hotels LLC.

Claims against that company were resolved in August.

“Any alleged injuries and damages incurred by plaintiffs were not proximately caused by any acts or omissions of defendants, and instead were caused by the acts or omissions of others for whom defendants bear no legal responsibility,” the Red Roof Inn companies said in a pre-trial brief.

Red Roof Inn told the court that any blame lay with the alleged sex traffickers, those who allegedly paid for sex, unspecified trafficking accomplices, the owners and operators of other hotels, online websites that allegedly advertised commercial sex, hotel security providers, and the alleged victims themselves.

“Each plaintiff’s alleged injuries and damages were caused by her own intentional, negligent, or criminal conduct,” the Red Roof Inn companies said in case filings. “Each plaintiff assumed the risk of injury.”

Red Roof Inn also argued that the claims against it were filed too late. It contended that the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries were at least in part due to their own health problems, stemming from childhood trauma and drug use, among other things.