H.G. v. Marriott International, Inc. et al

COMPLAINT filed by H.G. against Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation, Marriott International, Inc. with Jury Demand. Plaintiff requests summons issued. Receipt No: 0645-7517744 - Fee: $ 400. County of 1st Plaintiff: Out of State - County Where Action Arose: Wayne - County of 1st Defendant: Out of State. [Previously dismissed case: No] [Possible companion case(s): None]

Eastern District of Michigan, mied-4:2019-cv-13622

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Case 4:19-cv-13622-MFL-RSW ECF No. 1 filed 12/09/19 PageID.1 Page 1 of 43 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN H.G., an individual; Plaintiff -against- CIVIL ACTION NO:Pleading Title INTER-CONTINENTAL HOTELS CORPORATION; MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC., JURY TRIAL DEMANDED Defendants. COMPLAINT COMES NOW the Plaintiff H.G., by and through the undersigned counsel, and respectfully submits her complaint for damages and makes the following averments. INTRODUCTION 1. For years, sex trafficking ventures have brazenly operated in and out of hotels throughout this country. Criminals parade their misconduct openly on hotel properties throughout the United States while the hotels and hospitality industry remain willfully blind to the criminal misconduct to continue earning a profit at the expense of human life, human rights, and human dignity. 2. Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation (hereinafter "IHG") and Marriott 1 Case 4:19-cv-13622-MFL-RSW ECF No. 1 filed 12/09/19 PageID.2 Page 2 of 43 International, Inc. (hereinafter "Marriott") knew and should have known for more than a decade that sex trafficking repeatedly occurs under their flag throughout the country. Rather than taking timely and effective measures to thwart this epidemic, IHG and Marriott have instead chosen to ignore the open and obvious presence of sex trafficking at their hotels, enjoying the profit from rooms rented for this explicit and apparent purpose. 3. This action for damages is brought by the Plaintiff (hereinafter identified by her initials "H.G."), a survivor of sex trafficking under the federal William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (hereinafter "TVPRA"). 4. H.G. was first trafficked for commercial sex at the age of 17 years old after being kidnapped by a stranger. As a young child, H.G. had been removed from her childhood home after brutal and systematic sexual abuse by her father. She was living in an orphanage when her apparent vulnerability was first targeted by her traffickers, who then used brute strength to regularly abduct her from her school or work and drive her to the Defendants' hotels where she was forced to endure brutal physical assaults, psychological torment, verbal abuse, and imprisonment at the Defendants' hotels. H.G.'s traffickers would then release her to return back to her daily life with the constant fear of never knowing when their next abduction would take place. This continued for years as the Defendants did nothing but profit. 2 Case 4:19-cv-13622-MFL-RSW ECF No. 1 filed 12/09/19 PageID.3 Page 3 of 43 5. The Plaintiff now brings this action for damages against the Defendants listed herein. Each of the Defendants, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1595, knowingly benefited from facilitating a venture that they knew, or at the very least should have known, to be engaging in sex trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a). 6. H.G. was kept against her will, physically tortured, and sexually exploited under such duress at hotels in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan including the Holiday Inn® Express and Suites – Detroit Downtown and the Fairfield Inn®, by Marriott – Ann Arbor. 7. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' consistent refusals to prevent human trafficking at their respective hotels, H.G. was sex trafficked, sexually exploited, and victimized repeatedly at both the Holiday Inn® Express and Suites – Detroit Downtown and the Fairfield Inn®, by Marriott – Ann Arbor. 8. The Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act 18 U.S.C. § 1595, against the Defendants who enabled, harbored, held, facilitated, and financially benefited from the trafficking venture in which she was trafficked for the purpose of commercial sex, systematically exploited, and brutally victimized in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591 (a). PARTIES 9. The Plaintiff, having moved to proceed anonymously,1 and, herein, identified 1 Contemporaneously with the Complaint, Plaintiff A.C. filed a Motion for 3 Case 4:19-cv-13622-MFL-RSW ECF No. 1 filed 12/09/19 PageID.4 Page 4 of 43 by her initials H.G., was seventeen (17) years old when she was first sold for sex and trafficked throughout eastern Michigan for the purposes of commercial sex. The Plaintiff is a victim of trafficking pursuant to 22 U.S.C. § 7102 (15) and 18 U.S.C. § 1591 (a), and a victim of a "severe form of trafficking" as it is defined under 22 U.S.C § 7102 (14). The Plaintiff currently resides in Solano County, California. 10. Defendant Inter-Continental Hotels Corporation ("IHG") is one of the largest hotel brands in the world offering public lodging services directly or through its affiliates, subsidiaries, and franchisees. It is a Delaware corporation with its regional headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia and can be served by its registered agent Corporation Service Company, 251 Little Falls Drive, Wilmington, Delaware 19808. a. Holiday Inn® brand hotels are IHG hotels. b. As a hotel operator, Defendant IHG controls the training and policies for its hotels including the Holiday Inn® where H.G. was trafficked. Defendant IHG represents that it considers guest safety and security important and requires all of the hotels in its portfolio to comply with Protective Order and Leave to Proceed Anonymously with Memorandum in Support based upon the nature of the allegations in the instant Complaint, which are of an inherently intimate and personal nature. That motion is pending. Undersigned Counsel will provide her identity to counsel for the Defendants upon proper effectuation of service. 4 Case 4:19-cv-13622-MFL-RSW ECF No. 1 filed 12/09/19 PageID.5 Page 5 of 43 IHG brand standards and all local, state, and federal laws.2 c. Through its relationship with the staff at the Holiday Inn® where H.G. was trafficked and the hotel guest perpetrator who trafficked H.G. at Holiday Inn® hotels, Defendant IHG knowingly benefited or received something of value from its facilitation of or participation in a venture which it knew or should have known to engage in sex trafficking. d. IHG receives a percentage of the gross room revenue from the money generated by the operations of Holiday Inn® hotels, including a percentage of the rate charged on the rooms in which the Plaintiff was sex trafficked. e. IHG owns, supervises, and/or operates the Holiday Inn® Express and Suites – Detroit Downtown located at 1020 Washington Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan. f. IHG is subject to the jurisdiction of this Court because it regularly transacts business in the state of Michigan, operates dozens of hotels 2 See IHG Human Rights Policy, Sep. 18, 2019, available at www.ihgplc.com/- /media/ihg/files/pdf/policies/policies- 2019/en_ihg_human_rights_policy_september_2019.pdf?la=en&hash=B42BBB96 10597BB5FFDBC8A5788AAA71 (last visited Dec. 7, 2019). See also Inter- Continental Hotels Group, Modern Slavery Statement 2017 available at https://www.ihgplc.com/-/media/ihg/Files/pdf/modern-slavery-statement-2017-ihg- 010318.ashx?la=en&hash=B688F42E878C145EC5C8C9DF02ABC227 (last visited Nov. 22, 2019) 5 Case 4:19-cv-13622-MFL-RSW ECF No. 1 filed 12/09/19 PageID.6 Page 6 of 43 in the state of Michigan, contracts to supply services in the state of Michigan, caused indivisible injuries to the Plaintiff in the state of Michigan, and knowingly profited from an illegal sex trafficking venture at the Holiday Inn® Express and Suites – Detroit Downtown located at 1020 Washington Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan. 11. Defendant Marriott International, Inc. (hereinafter "Marriott) is one of the largest hotel brands in the world offering public lodging services directly or through its affiliates, subsidiaries, and franchisees. It is a Delaware corporation with its headquarters located at 10400 Fernwood Road in Bethesda, Maryland. a. Fairfield Inn® brand hotels are Marriott hotels. b. As a hotel operator, Defendant Marriott controls the training and policies for its hotels including the Fairfield Inn® hotel where H.G. was trafficked. c. Defendant Marriott maintains that it considers guest safety and security to be important and requires all of the hotels in its portfolio to comply with Marriott brand standards and all local, state, and federal laws.3 3 See Marriott Human Rights Policy, available at www.marriott.com/Multimedia/PDF/Corporate/HumanRights.pdf, and Marriot Human Rights Policy Statement, July 2017, available at www.marriott.com/Multimedia/PDF/Corporate/HumanRightsStatement.pdf. 6 Case 4:19-cv-13622-MFL-RSW ECF No. 1 filed 12/09/19 PageID.7 Page 7 of 43 d. Through its relationship with the staff at the Fairfield Inn® where H.G. was trafficked and the hotel guest perpetrator who trafficked H.G. at Fairfield Inn® hotels, Defendant Marriott knowingly benefited or received something of value from its facilitation of or participation in a venture which it knew or should have known to engage in sex trafficking. e. Marriott receives a percentage of the gross room revenue from the money generated by the operations of Fairfield Inn® hotels, including a percentage of the rate charged on the hotel rooms in which the Plaintiff was trafficked. f. Marriott owns, supervises, and/or operates the Fairfield Inn® by Marriott – Ann Arbor located at 3285 Boardwalk in Ann Arbor, Michigan. g. Marriott is subject to the jurisdiction of this Court because it regularly transacts business in the state of Michigan, operates dozens of hotels in the state of Michigan, contracts to supply services in the state of Michigan, caused indivisible injuries to the Plaintiff in the state of Michigan, and knowingly profited from an illegal sex trafficking venture at the Fairfield Inn® – Ann Arbor located at 3285 Boardwalk in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 7 Case 4:19-cv-13622-MFL-RSW ECF No. 1 filed 12/09/19 PageID.8 Page 8 of 43 12. Whenever reference is made in this Complaint to any act, deed, and/or conduct of the Defendants, the allegation is that the Defendants engaged in the act(s), deed(s), and/or conduct by or through one or more of their officers, directors, agents, employees, and/or representatives who was/were actively engaged in the management, direction, control, and/or transaction(s) of the ordinary business and affairs of the Defendants. JURISDICTION AND VENUE 13. This Honorable Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because this action arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. The an amount in controversy that exceeds $75,000.) 14. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claims asserted in this action, including the Defendants' misconduct and omissions, occurred in the judicial district where this action is brought. SEX TRAFFICKING UNDER FEDERAL LAW 15. Sex trafficking is defined by the TVPRA under 22 U.S.C. § 7102, as "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act and in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion." This definition combines the three elements of sex trafficking as a criminal offense: the act, the 8 Case 4:19-cv-13622-MFL-RSW ECF No. 1 filed 12/09/19 PageID.9 Page 9 of 43 means, and the purpose. 16. To best understand the mechanism by which sex trafficking ventures are prohibited by federal criminal law, it is best to address these elements in the reverse. Sex trafficking is slavery for the purpose of commercial sex, a lens on the already existing crimes prohibited by 18 U.S.C. §§ 1589 and 1590. The crime of slavery can then be divided into the two (2) elements remaining: the act and the means. The act is the "harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining," of forced labor, codified as a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1590, while the means is labor "obtained or provided by force, fraud or coercion" and is codified as