If you’re on this page, you’ve probably been through a terrible experience at a Knights Inn, and you may be wondering about the company’s legal obligations to you.
Hotel/motel liability is a complex topic, but it typically comes down to this:
- Were you or a close family member seriously harmed at a Knights Inn?
- Did Knights Inn have reason to expect what happened?
- Were there reasonable steps Knights Inn neglected to take, that could have protected you or your loved one?
If the answer to all three might be “yes,” then you may have a case.
Below, we’ll go into some of the most common reasons you might need to sue Knights Inn. If you would prefer to speak directly with a lawyer about your particular case, feel free to reach out by phone or chat at any time.
Knights Inn Has a Less-Than-Sparkling Record of Responding to Safety Concerns
Complaints about unsafe conditions are a precious commodity for large companies. Every time an employee or customer points out a safety hazard before it causes a serious accident, the company has a valuable chance to avoid that accident completely. Unfortunately, many companies don’t see it that way, and ignore useful complaints for as long as possible.
In May of 2023, reporters interviewed residents at a Knights Inn in Indianapolis, about a water outage in the building that had lasted nearly two weeks. The residents took the opportunity to talk about other pending issues they’d had with the inn as well, which they said had gone unaddressed. Most dangerous among them was an alleged absence of smoke detectors.
Smoke detectors are a cheap, effective, and legally mandatory safety measure for motels. They make it possible for most guests to evacuate in time to survive a fire, even if it starts in the middle of the night.
No motel company ever has an excuse to disregard the danger of fire, certainly not Knights Inn. There have been at least six reported fires on Knights Inn properties within the last three years alone, one of them here in Georgia, one in Texas, one in New Jersey, one in South Carolina, and no fewer than three in Pennsylvania, two of them within a single location.
Thankfully, none of those fires resulted in fatalities, but that seems to be due primarily to quick responses by emergency services. There’s absolutely no reason why Knights Inn shouldn’t be doing whatever it can to maximize fire safety on its own.
This is not the only alleged instance of Knights Inn ignoring serious health and safety problems. In May of 2016, a Knights Inn in Ontario tried to evict a man who had publicly complained about the conditions he and his neighbors were living in. In addition to sanitation issues, he reported that one of the motel’s stairs had broken under him, causing him to fall and gash his leg open.
The man, who had been living in the motel for three years, ultimately succeeded in having himself declared a tenant instead of a guest, in order to hold Knights Inn to the legal standards of a residential landlord and stop the eviction. He could probably have gone further, and pursued compensation for his injuries.
Tenants and guests have different rights when it comes to being removed from a property, but both have a right to safe, hazard-free conditions while there. If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one to an accident on Knights Inn property, there’s a good chance you have a case.
Hotels Have a Duty to Protect Against Violence as Well as Accidents
Most businesses like to claim that they’re not responsible for the crimes individuals commit on their property. Legally, this is only true if there’s no reasonable way the business could have predicted the crime, or protected people on the property against it.
With this in mind, there are two main reasons why a Knights Inn might be liable for a violent crime in its rooms, walkways, lobby, or parking lot.
- If that specific Knights Inn location, or the area around it, has experienced similar crimes in the past, the company should expect crime to be an ongoing problem there. This means it has a duty to maintain appropriate security measures, such as cameras, lights, gates, and guards.
This principle might apply to the fatal shooting of Keshia Geter in Augusta last year, for example. Her death at the Knights Inn on Boy Scout Road was the 24th homicide or suspected homicide in the Central Savannah River Area, over the course of just three months. That Knights Inn location had every reason to invest in thorough security to protect guests like Geter. If it failed to do so, that would qualify as negligence.
- Even if a violent crime is unlike any the location has ever experienced before, Knights Inn might still be liable if the staff ignored obvious warning signs that a crime was about to happen, or already in progress.
For example, in 2018, a man allegedly kidnapped his girlfriend and took her to a Knights Inn in South Hackensack, New Jersey. He then apparently shot the woman and himself when police tried to force the door of the room he had rented. The man’s brother reported that the woman had called him from inside the room to ask for help, and that the alleged shooter had threatened to kill her in the past.
The Prosecutor’s Office would later decline to comment on whether the police had communicated at all with the motel’s management, particularly about how to open the door. If the staff saw any sign that this woman was not there voluntarily, and did not initiate or cooperate with rescue efforts, Knights Inn could share liability for her death.
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one due to violence at a Knights Inn, a lawyer can help you determine whether Knights Inn itself could have done more to keep you safe.
Authorities Have Shut Down Multiple Knights Inns for Drug and Sex Trafficking
Often, when a hotel or motel is especially prone to violent crime, it’s not just because it happens to be in a high crime area. Rather, it’s because the hotel’s way of doing business is the cause of the high crime area.
Most big hotel chains have had at least a few of their locations become crime hotspots at some point in time, with or without the realizing it. Knights Inn, however, has regularly become so enmeshed with serious alleged criminal activity that local and even federal government entities have had to step in.
- The city of Franklin, Ohio, shut down its local Knights Inn in January of 2023, after police discovered their fifth body there in five years. Police had also responded to hundreds of other emergency calls from the property during that time, including one involving the rape of an underage girl. The city called the inn “the epicenter of continuous and substantial criminal activity in the city of Franklin for years,” and had sent cease-and-desist letters to the owner with no response. Specifically, the city alleged that the inn was being used for drug trafficking and possible sex trafficking.
- With authorization from a federal judge, the U.S Marshals seized the Knights Inn in Roanoke, Virginia, in September of 2022. The investigation that led to the seizure started with a 15-year-old girl being trafficked and sexually exploited at gunpoint. Later, multiple other suspected trafficking victims were found on the property, and a U.S attorney discovered evidence that the inn was giving sex traffickers discounts, allowing them to pay in cash without keeping a record, and warning them when law enforcement was in the area.
- South Portland, Maine refused to renew the business license of a Knights Inn in 2018, following multiple incidents that pointed to possible sex trafficking on the property. In one of those incidents, a woman who spoke no English was arrested for prostitution. Witnesses reported that she was being surveilled and coerced by two people waiting outside the inn. Two years after the inn was forced to close, a woman sued the owners for allowing her to be trafficked there. Her identify has been kept private, so it’s not clear whether she’s the same person witnesses saw being coerced.
Other Cities Have Also Attempted to Crack Down on High-Crime Knights Inns
Not every Knights Inn accused of harboring drug and sex trafficking ends up shutting down. Some simply end up changing hands, or promising improvements.
- Vandalia, Ohio sued its local Knights Inn in 2020, for being a public nuisance and producing an unusual volume of 911 calls. Allegations again involved illegal trade in drugs and sex. Alarmingly, one guest reported that the inn had removed the phones from its guest rooms. This would make it more difficult for guests to report crimes and for sex trafficking victims to escape. The city ultimately established a set of steps high-crime hotels could follow to avoid being shut down, including training staff to recognize human trafficking, adding security guards and cameras, and requiring a credit card on check-in. The Knights Inn complied, stayed open, and greatly decreased its crime rate, at least for a while. In May of 2022, there was a shootout in the inn’s parking lot.
- Napoleon, Ohio tried suing its Knights Inn for similar public nuisance reasons in 2022. That suit was dismissed when the location changed ownership.
- Fort Worth, Texas also sued to shut down its local Knights Inn for failing to address repeated criminal activity. The court allowed the inn to remain open but ordered the owners to hire security guards, and to fix the lighting and perimeter fence on the property.
To make matters worse, these noted “problem” locations don’t even cover all of the allegations of sex trafficking at Knights Inns. Just a few months ago, a woman came forward to report that she had been trafficked out of a Knights Inn in Elyria, Ohio.
Here in Georgia, another woman reported being trafficked out of the Austell location on Blair Ridge Road for five months in 2019. Her alleged pimp was arrested for sex trafficking, rape, and false imprisonment.
If you’ve been sexually exploited at a Knights Inn, your experience is not a random fluke, and you do have the right to hold the company accountable.
What to Do If You’ve Been Harmed at a Knights Inn
The first step is to get out of danger. If you’re a victim of ongoing criminal activity at a Knights Inn, your best bet is to look for an opportunity to call 911, or to physically escape the premises and then call to report what happened from a safer location.
If you’re still at the inn but not in danger of further harm (if you’re at the bottom of the stairs after falling, for instance), it’s a good idea to take pictures and preserve any other evidence you can before leaving.
You may also want to notify the staff briefly of what happened, but avoid getting drawn into a detailed discussion, where your words could be used against you.
As soon as you are safe, with your immediate medical needs met, speak with a lawyer in your area who has experience with your specific type of claim.
The Stoddard Firm has experts in premises liability, personal injury, wrongful death, human trafficking and sexual assault, and the innkeeper laws that outline the duties of the hospitality industry. We’re committed to holding companies like Knights Inn accountable, and helping victims get the compensation they need to heal from their experiences.
We’ll walk you through every step of the process, handle all communications with Knights Inn, protect your privacy, and make sure your settlement reflects the full scope of what you’ve been through.
To get started talking to a lawyer who handles these cases in the Atlanta area, call 678-RESULTS, or reach out through our online chat function.