Country Hearth Inn & Suites is a hospitality brand founded here in Atlanta, with locations around the country. It was previously part of Vantage Hospitality, before Red Lion acquired Vantage, and Sonesta acquired Red Lion. Currently, the Country Hearth brand belongs to Stay Inns, and individual Country Hearth locations belong to local franchisees.

Below, we’ll go over common reasons you might need to sue a Country Hearth Inn. If at any point you would prefer to speak directly with a lawyer who handles cases against Country Hearth Inn, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.

Country Hearth Inns Have Exposed Guests to Serious Safety Violations, Often for Years

Landlords have a duty to make sure their properties are free of any needless, foreseeable hazards. This duty isn’t limited to following local and international building codes, though that’s certainly a good place to start.

During a code enforcement sweep of Indianapolis motels in 2015, a Country Hearth Inn was cited for 27 separate health and safety violations. Among them were bedbug infestations, a partially caved in roof, handrails that had nearly rusted through, and second floor walkways weakened by water damage from leaking air conditioners.

Two years later, a second Country Hearth Inn in Indiana, this one in Fort Wayne, had to be evacuated due to unlivable conditions, including a web of amateur electrical work hanging from the ceilings. Officials discovered the problem after the sprinkler system activated and soaked the exposed cables.

Many of the people staying in both those Country Hearth Inns were long-term residents with nowhere else to go, which is part of a larger ongoing issue with the Country Hearth brand.

Country Hearth Inns have a history of becoming de facto apartment buildings, ignoring the legal distinctions between hotels and permanent housing. This is a common practice in the hospitality industry that often becomes predatory, as the “guests” — usually people facing barriers to traditional housing — effectively pay rent without enjoying many of the legal protections of tenants. There are also safety issues associated with improvised cooking setups in rooms never designed to have kitchens.

Of course, a landlord’s responsibility for premises safety still legally applies, regardless of whether the property is classified as a hotel, extended stay hotel, or apartment building. So, if you’ve been injured at an unsafe Country Hearth Inn, you likely have a case, no matter how long or short a time you’ve spent there.

Hotels and Motels of All Price Ranges Must Provide Appropriate Security

When crime is a known threat on or around a property, the landlord has a duty to respond to that threat with appropriate precautions, just as they would have a duty to repair a crumbling walkway.

This might mean adding more security cameras or better lighting in communal areas, or hiring security guards. It might also mean checking guest IDs, and refusing to serve those who have proven a threat to others on the property.

Country Hearth Inn is not a large chain, but it’s certainly seen its share of crime. Within the past five years alone:

  • Police discovered an apparent meth lab operating out of a Country Hearth Inn room in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
  • Two people were shot at the Country Hearth Inn in Union City, here in Georgia.
  • A boyfriend and girlfriend called the police from that same Union City location a few months later, to report that a man had flashed a gun at them. When police arrived, they discovered that the man who had flashed the gun was intervening in a domestic violence incident between the couple. The boyfriend had outstanding warrants and a history of domestic and other violence.
  • A woman was shot twice in the torso by a man who’d spent the night with her in a Country Hearth Inn in South Point, Ohio. She survived and described the incident to the police, who arrested a suspect.
  • A man was shot and left in critical condition at the same Indianapolis location where the 27 health and safety violations were found.
  • One man shot another during an argument in the parking lot of a Country Hearth Inn in Sturgis, Michigan. The inn was already undergoing evictions and security upgrades intended to address its history of drug trafficking and associated crime. The new managers reported that the men were not current guests of the inn, but that they knew people who were.

Once a property has become a base of operations for criminal activities, it can be extremely difficult to reclaim it for honest business and innocent guests.

At the first sign of trouble, it’s a hotel owner’s responsibility to take the threat of violence seriously and meet it with a proportionate security response, before any harm, or any more harm, can take place.

Motels Should Always Be on the Lookout for Signs of Sexual Violence and Exploitation

Sexual violence is an especially pervasive problem in the hospitality industry, in large part because motels are an attractive venue for sex traffickers.

Like most hospitality brands, Country Hearth Inn has been involved with commercial sex at least once in its history.

Back in 2004, six women and one man were arrested in a drug and prostitution sting at the Country Hearth Inn in Tyler, Texas. The man was charged only with drug-related offenses, and five of the women were charged with prostitution. When questioned, the manager of the inn acknowledged that activities related to commercial sex were common on and around several of his properties, and claimed that, “If I see a problem, I tell them they need to leave and all that.”

At that time, law and police procedure surrounding sex trafficking might best be described as “misguided.” In most of the U.S, women and even children involved in commercial sex were typically treated as criminals by default. The professional sex traffickers who forced, manipulated, and kept the profits from most of these transactions were rarely caught or acknowledged. It was almost unheard of for the owner of an ostensibly legitimate business, like a hotel, to be held accountable for harboring and profiting off of sex trafficking.

Thankfully, laws, procedures, and attitudes have shifted drastically, especially here in Georgia. If that sting had happened here, today, the police would probably have been working in concert with a dedicated human trafficking task force, to support victims of coercion and apprehend their pimps.

The role of the Country Hearth Inn would also receive much more scrutiny. Legally, hotel owners who knowingly enable or profit from sex trafficking are liable for the damages, and many have been successfully held accountable in court in recent years.

Of course, sex crimes in motels aren’t always part of an organized criminal enterprise. Just like other kinds of violence, they can happen opportunistically anywhere with inadequate security.

On New Year’s Day of 2014, a 14-year-old South Carolina girl found her way home after being missing for under 48 hours. She reported that a man had taken her to the Country Hearth Inn in Greenville, sexually assaulted her while holding her captive for about 12 of those hours, and then let her go.

Every hotel should train its staff to recognize and report this kind of behavior, but Country Hearth Inn needs to be especially vigilant, given their history and niche. Some departments of corrections actively recommend the Country Hearth brand to recently released sex offenders as a housing option, due to the extended stays available at many locations, coupled with nonexistent background checks.

In fact, at around the same time as that kidnapping in South Carolina, a woman with two children told reporters that a sex offender was living just two doors down from her family at their Country Hearth Inn in Jacksonville, Florida. The man involved in the domestic violence incident in Union City was also on the sex offender registry due to an incident involving an underage girl.

If you’ve been sexually victimized at a Country Hearth Inn, your case was probably not random or isolated. There’s every chance that you were knowingly exposed to a needlessly dangerous environment without your knowledge.

Even Defunct Country Hearth Inns Can Continue to Plague Neighborhoods

One of the most unsettling things about the Country Hearth Inn brand is how often it leaves empty shells of itself behind, long after an individual franchise has failed.

Any business can close down, of course, but when a Country Hearth Inn does so, the property is often so depreciated that it stands empty and unused — or unsuccessfully used — posing a public health and safety hazard for years afterward. Some of this can be chalked up to bad luck, of course, but it’s a striking pattern:

  • In 2008, a rundown former luxury hotel in Eau Claire, Wisconsin was bought out and converted into a Country Hearth Inn. The value of the property was already a fraction of what it had once been, but under the Country Hearth brand, the hotel’s annual calls for police service more than doubled in the first year. The inn only stayed open until 2010 and was condemned in 2011.
  • In 2017, an abandoned motel caught fire in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The motel’s most recent name had been The Spartanburg Hotel and Resort, but before that, it was a Country Hearth Inn.
  • In 2021, Flagler County, Florida had to sue for the right to demolish an abandoned Country Hearth Inn, after the property owners ignored all communication from the county, including a letter delivered directly into their hands. The inn had been the subject of multiple health and safety complaints, including one regarding its abandoned pool back in 2014.
  • In 2024, the Noble Lodge Apartments in Paducah, Kentucky was condemned, following a string of safety issues, including raw sewage and needles flowing into the parking lot, and electrical issues which necessitated evacuating residents in the middle of the night in freezing weather. The building had only recently been renamed the Noble Lodge. It was previously the same Country Hearth Inn where the drug and prostitution sting took place 20 years earlier.

Of course, property owners are not generally responsible for what happens on their former property after they’ve sold it. That said, every wreck of a former Country Hearth Inn legally belongs to someone, whether or not that ownership has changed since its days as an active motel. If you’ve been harmed by a fire, crime, or other incident made possible by an untended former Country Hearth Inn, a lawyer may be able to help you identify the negligent party.

What to Do If You’ve Been Harmed at a Country Hearth Inn and Suites

If you think you might need to sue a Country Hearth Inn and Suites, follow this checklist as closely as you can, to protect your health, safety, and rights.

  1. Remove yourself from immediate danger (if applicable).
  2. Seek medical care, including mental health care if you believe you’ve suffered psychological harm from the incident in question.
  3. Keep track of your evidence, such as receipts for medical expenses or documentation of your visit to Country Hearth Inn.
  4. Briefly notify Country Hearth Inn of what happened. Do not speculate, argue, or allow yourself to be drawn into a detailed discussion.
  5. Find a lawyer in your area who handles lawsuits against motels.

The Stoddard Firm has experts in all the fields of law that motel lawsuits usually touch upon, including premises liability, personal injury, wrongful death, negligent security, sex trafficking, and franchise law. We’re passionate about holding companies accountable when they put profits ahead of human health and safety, and we work closely with our clients to make sure that we’re advocating for their interests as thoroughly as possible.

To get started with a free consultation on your case, reach out any time at 678-RESULTS, or through our online chat function.

Attorney Matt Stoddard

Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Matt StoddardMatt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]

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