There are nearly infinite ways people can end up injured on hotel property, and no two incidents are ever exactly the same. That said, if you’re wondering whether you have grounds to sue Extended Stay America for something that happened at one of their hotels, the first three questions to ask yourself are always the same:
- Did Extended Stay America have reason to believe its guests were in danger?
- Did the company pass up a reasonable opportunity to reduce or eliminate that danger?
- Were you harmed, or was a member of your family killed, as a result of the company’s choices?
If the answer to all three is “yes” or “maybe,” you may have a case.
To be clear, the danger can be anything, from excessively hot tap water, to walkway tripping hazards, to bedbug infestations, to a high probability of violent crime. As long as it’s somewhat predictable and preventable, the hotel has a duty to protect against it.
The predictability and preventability of a danger may not always be obvious. In the moment, a flood or a shooting at a hotel might seem like a random event that no one could have foreseen. A closer inspection by someone who knows the industry and the area, however, might reveal that the company had plenty of reason to expect the disaster, and chose not to invest in better drainage, security, etc.
This is why it’s so important to check with an experienced attorney, if you believe Extended Stay America may owe you compensation.
Below, we’ll go into detail on a few of the most common reasons you may need to sue Extended Stay America, the obstacles you may face, and how a lawyer can help. If you have a question about a different sort of incident, or simply wish to speak with a lawyer directly, feel free to reach out by phone or chat at any time.
Fires Have Started and Spread at Extended Stay America with Alarming Ease
No structure is 100% fireproof. Out-of-control fires are a credible danger to life and health on every type of property, and especially in buildings with multiple stories, cooking facilities, or sleeping quarters. Extended Stay America locations typically have all of these.
While the danger of fire-related harm is never zero, landlords have a duty to take precautions to minimize it. A hotel, for example should:
- Keep a working smoke detector in every bedroom.
- Plot an unobstructed and well-lit escape route.
- Maintain an automatic sprinkler system (some older structures may be exempt).
- Provide handheld fire extinguishers in easy-to-access locations.
Most fire safety protocols focus on reducing the risk of death and injury when a fire does happen. However, the International Fire Code and Building Code also require structures to be reasonably resistant to igniting in the first place. Deviations from these kinds of safety standards can be hard to see, until it’s too late.
In the past five years, Extended Stay America locations have had at least seven unintentional fires, one each in Amherst, New York, Durham, North Carolina, Indianapolis, Indiana, St. Petersburg, Florida, Merriam, Kansas, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Put together, they resulted in zero deaths and only one hospital stay, which speaks well for the hotels’ evacuation preparedness. However, the patterns these fires followed suggest some structural safety issues that the company should definitely be looking into.
Five of those seven fires ended up taking hold in the top floor or attic of the building, even when the ignition occurred at ground level. Hollow areas in walls and outdoor columns allowed the flames to spread rapidly upward and into sprinkler-free attic spaces.
Four of the seven are also believed to have started with cigarettes, usually discarded in mulch or other flammable garden materials near the buildings. Though carelessness with smoking materials is always a fire hazard, cigarettes burn at a relatively low temperature. In a structure with decent fire resistance, a cigarette ember being able to spread into a fire should be a rare occurrence.
Two of the other fires appear to have started with electrical systems or appliances in the buildings themselves, and the cause of the seventh is unknown.
If you’ve been injured in an Extended Stay America fire, your lawyer will need to dig into the hotel’s code compliance and past experience with incidents like yours, to determine what the company could have done better to keep you safe.
Extended Stay America Has Been the Site of Multiple Horrific Child Abuse Scandals
Over the past decade, Extended Stay America has not been a safe place to be a child, and the greatest danger has come not from faulty architecture, but from other people.
Back in 2014, here in Georgia, a 1-year-old girl died of starvation in the Extended Stay America in Gwinnett. The girl’s father was found to have been deliberately starving her and her mother as a method of control. The hotel claimed that neither the staff nor any other outsider could have known that there was anything wrong with the parents’ relationship — in spite of the fact that the mother weighed 59 pounds and was unable to speak or walk by the time police intervened.
Extended Stay America was found 30% liable for the child’s death and ordered to pay $13.8 million to her estate.
Unfortunately, she was not the last child to suffer extreme abuse, or to die from it, a matter of yards away from an Extended Stay America reception office. In January of 2022, an 11-year-old boy died of a head injury inflicted with a pair of scissors. He and his younger brother had been living in the Extended Stay America in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona, with their grandmother and her husband, who were both arrested on suspicion of child abuse and homicide.
The child’s mother is now suing the Department of Child Safety (DCS) for ignoring five separate complaints against the grandmother, dating back to 2017. Most of the complaints came from officials and multiple schools the children attended. Only the most recent, filed in 2021, came from an employee at Extended Stay America. The receptionist who called DCS reported that she had seen the boys panhandling outside the previous summer, wearing long sleeves and sweatpants.
The lawsuit does not currently name Extended Stay America as a defendant, but it’s entirely possible the company could be negligent for ignoring the signs for as long as it did.
Only two months after the death of the child in Scottsdale, another man was arrested and charged with abusing his 3-month-old twins and a cat at an Extended Stay America in Warren Michigan. Both babies and the cat showed signs of new and old violent injuries.
Most recently, in August of 2023, a woman entered a Walgreens in Las Vegas, Nevada with her 2-year-old daughter and told the staff there that her husband had threatened to kill her. When police entered the couple’s unit at the nearby Extended Stay America, they found six other children inside alone, all under the age of 11. Many had visible injuries and signs of malnourishment, and two were padlocked inside a dog cage. The husband was eventually located and charged with 38 counts of child abuse, as well as two counts of kidnapping. The wife was also charged with seven counts of child abuse.
In short, Extended Stay America has had more than enough chances to teach its staff to recognize and act on signs of violence among its guests. If you or someone you love has been harmed this way, you may very well have a case against the company.
Sex Trafficking Remains a Serious Issue in Hospitality, Even at Extended-Stay Locations
There’s also another reason why hotel employees need to be trained to recognize and respond to abusive situations. Historically, hotels and motels have been an integral part of the illegal sex trafficking industry, providing spaces for victims to be held and for forced commercial sex to take place.
This problem is far from gone today. And, even though the transient nature of standard hotels is part of the appeal for sex traffickers, longer-term suite rentals can be used for this purpose as well.
Sex trafficking often overlaps with other crimes. Sometimes it can be an extension of an existing abusive situation. For example, the Nevada man arrested for child abuse was also charged with one count of sex trafficking, for allegedly forcing his wife into prostitution.
In other cases, it can be a highly targeted and systematized business.
In 2019, Extended Stay America was named in two separate sex trafficking lawsuits. In each case, one or more women came forward to report having been sex trafficked through multiple hotels within a particular region of the U.S, one of them an Extended Stay America. The first set of incidents happened across Oregon and Washington State, the second here in Metro Atlanta. The women reported that, in all locations, the staff were aware of what was going on, and in some cases actively assisted the traffickers.
Other cases have arisen since. In 2022, a teenage girl disappeared from a Mavericks game in Dallas, Texas. After Dallas police allegedly refused to search for her, the girl’s parents reached out to the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative. The Initiative managed to track down and identify her image in an online ad, which offered her for commercial sex in Oklahoma. From there, local police were able to rescue her from an Extended Stay America in Oklahoma City, 10 days after her disappearance. A suspect was arrested for her original abduction in early 2023.
Sadly, not all sex trafficking victims survive their ordeals or find justice.
This year, a woman sued Extended Stay America for the death of her daughter in its Pompano Beach, Florida location. The girl was 16 years old and under the control of a sex trafficker when she died, in 2019, from an overdose of cocaine and fentanyl. The company argued that the girl’s possession of these drugs constituted a felony, and that it was not responsible for the consequences of a guest’s own criminal actions.
The judge ruled in favor of Extended Stay America, in spite of the fact that inducing drug addiction in victims is a standard sex trafficking tactic.
The good news, however, is that legal judgments blaming sex trafficking victims, especially underage victims, have shifted from the norm to the exception in recent years. Georgia in particular has made huge strides in protecting victims’ rights and holding traffickers accountable under the law.
If you or your child have been sexually exploited in an Extended Stay America, there’s a strong chance you’ll be able to collect compensation from the company.
The Stoddard Firm Has Experts in Extended Stay Hotel Liability
Whether the harm you suffered at Extended Stay America was intentional or accidental, whether it happened yesterday or five years ago, it’s never a bad idea to talk with a lawyer about your options.
In the meantime, you can help protect your rights by seeking timely medical care, keeping a record of related expenses and any other evidence that comes into your possession, and refusing to negotiate directly with Extended Stay America without your lawyer’s involvement.
At the Stoddard Firm, we’re experts in premises liability, personal injury, wrongful death, human trafficking law, and innkeeper laws. We’re also Atlanta locals and know the surrounding cities very well. If a certain business or neighborhood has a history of a certain kind of crime or accident, there’s a good chance we know about it.
Above all, we have a passion for holding negligent corporations accountable and helping survivors collect the full compensation they deserve.
To get started discussing your potential case against Extended Stay America with a qualified Atlanta area attorney, reach out through our online chat or at 678-RESULTS for a free consultation.