Human Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Against Little Rock Hotel Owner
Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Represents Victim
Rainwater, Holt & Sexton is representing a victim of sex trafficking against a negligent hotel owner. Attorneys Lauren Manatt and Meredith Moore filed the lawsuit on behalf of an unnamed plaintiff – Jane Doe – against Shri Jinasha LLC and Seven Star Hotels Group Inc., former owners of the Quality Inn and Suites at 6100 Mitchell Drive. The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, is the first in Arkansas to claim civil liability against a hospitality organization over alleged human-trafficking activity. It alleges that employees of the Little Rock hotel were silent when victims of sex trafficking screamed, ignored women who walked by each day with fresh bruises and gave traffickers exclusive access to an entire floor of the building.
Doe Held Against Her Will and Repeatedly Injured
The trafficker kept Doe in the hotel from May to July of 2014. Doe was raped by 10 to 12 people a day, and the money the customers paid was taken by her trafficker. According to Doe, she was beaten and choked several times a week with hotel managers and employees failing to ever call 911 to report the screaming or intercede. Despite being clearly injured, whenever she walked past the front desk, workers, managers and other staff members would put their heads down and look away, turning a blind eye to the nightmares Doe experienced.
Based on Doe’s experience, the fourth floor of the hotel was used exclusively for human trafficking, and she was one of the dozens of women and minors held there. Traffickers were given their own key cards to access the side doors of the building and had control over when housekeepers were allowed to clean the rooms. Phones on the fourth floor were disconnected, preventing any of the women from calling for help, and loud music played on the floor around the clock.
Changing Hotel Owners
The hotel has changed hands six times since 2002, according to Pulaski County property records. Shri Jinasha LLC purchased the hotel in 2011 and sold it to Seven Star Hotels Group Inc. in 2015. The property has since been sold again and is undergoing renovation by the current owner, Aniary LLC.
Aniary purchased the property in March and co-owner Henry Patel has said that he was unaware of the hotel’s history before purchase. The company is not a defendant in the lawsuit. “I was not aware this was happening on the fourth floor,” Patel said. “I’m really against it. That’s all I know.” Patel said. “If we think they’re going to do bad things in our hotel, we’d rather lose that money”.
Both Shri Jinasha and Seven Star Hotels have been dissolved, according to the Arkansas secretary of state’s office.
Rainwater, Holt & Sexton is seeking reparations for Doe’s physical and mental injuries as well as her medical care, missed earnings and any continuing pain or suffering resulting from the hotel managers’ negligence. The filing also alleges that hotel workers and managers never reported to police the signs of mistreatment and endangerment.
Cases like this are uncommon, with the first of its kind being filed in Ohio earlier this year in March. Several more have been filed since, but according to Mannat, as this is the first case of its kind in Arkansas, there are hurdles to overcome.
“What we’re hoping for here is societal change,” Bob Sexton, partner at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, said. When hotels are held liable for their neglect, insurance companies will begin requiring measures to prevent human trafficking.
The social stigma surrounding human and sex trafficking, as well as the fear of abusers and traffickers, can prevent survivors from speaking out about their abuse. In a civil suit, however, Moore said survivors can talk about what happened to them without having to face the person who abused them. Rainwater, Holt & Sexton is available to advocate for victims of sexual abuse, assault or trafficking. No one should have to go through this alone. Rainwater, Holt & Sexton is here for those who have been trafficked and need a free, confidential consultation.