When a motel or hotel opens itself to guests, the owner is making a promise to take all reasonable steps to provide those guests with a safe place to stay. It makes no difference whether the owner is a single person or an international corporation, whether a room costs $60 per night or $600, or whether the location is in a metropolitan area, a suburb, or the middle of nowhere. Legally, staying in a hotel or motel is never “at your own risk.”
Below, we’ll go into detail on some of the biggest dangers Motel 6 guests typically face, and the company’s associated responsibilities. If at any point you would prefer to speak directly with a lawyer about your case, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.
Guests from All Over the Country Have Accused Motel 6 of Enabling Human Trafficking
Human trafficking awareness and prevention are absolutely essential to responsible hotel/motel management. Cheap, temporary private spaces like motel rooms are especially attractive to sex traffickers, and motel staff are often the people best situated to notice and report sexual exploitation.
Companies that deliberately enable human trafficking in order to profit from it are legally liable for the harm the victims suffer. Unfortunately, many motels are still willing to accept human traffickers’ business.
Reports abound of women and children being exploited this way in Motel 6 rooms, often with obvious warning signs going ignored. To name just a few from recent years:
- In 2017, the city of Los Angeles sued Motel 6 for harboring human trafficking at its Sylmar location. This came after multiple police officers investigated the motel while posing as traffickers and victims. One officer reportedly told the front desk clerk that he was a pimp intending to prostitute a woman out of his room, and was immediately allowed to check in. The motel settled the case for $250,000.
- In 2020, a woman came forward in Little Rock, Arkansas to say that she had been held captive and sexually exploited in a Motel 6 from March until August of the previous year. In her lawsuit, she describes screaming during assaults and repeatedly begging the staff to call the police to no effect.
- In January of 2021 and March of 2022, two men accepted plea bargains, after being charged with trafficking a 14-year-old girl out of a Motel 6 room in Raleigh, North Carolina.
- In July of 2022, police rescued a woman who would later describe being trafficked through motels across California, Georgia, and Minnesota, including Motel 6 locations in St. Paul and Roseville. The rescue happened not at a Motel 6, but at a Comfort Inn, where the woman managed to slip a note to the front desk staff, who called the police.
- In September of 2022, police responded to a request for a welfare check on a 15-year-old girl at a Motel 6 in Rockford, Illinois. They found her in a room with a 31-year-old man. After an investigation, the man was charged with child pornography and involuntary sexual servitude of a minor.
- In February of 2023, another woman came forward with a similar report of being sex trafficked out of a Motel 6 in New Braunfels, Texas. In her lawsuit, she describes her trafficker once covering her in a blanket before entering the motel, because she was covered in blood from injuries he had inflicted.
- In April of 2023, a 15-year-old girl who had run away from foster care died in a Motel 6 room in Warwick, Road Island. She had been given a pill suspected to contain fentanyl. Preying on foster children and runaways, and encouraging drug addiction, are common sex trafficking tactics. The Warwick location had also been the subject of previous suspected sex trafficking incidents.
- In May of 2023, another woman filed a lawsuit against Motel 6 for allowing her to be sex trafficked out of an Albuquerque, New Mexico location in 2019. She says she often made eye contact with employees, showed her bruises, and mouthed, “help me,” but that they did nothing, even when her trafficker physically dragged her out of the lobby in front of them.
In short, while Motel 6 may claim to condemn human trafficking, support survivors, and protect the vulnerable, it has a long way to go to demonstrate its commitment to those values. If you too have been sexually exploited in a Motel 6, the company owes you compensation.
Companies Like Motel 6 Have a Duty to Protect People from Known Crime Patterns
While sex trafficking is an especially serious problem in motels, it’s not the only kind of crime that threatens Motel 6 guests.
Gun violence is, of course, a disturbingly regular occurrence across many motel chains, including Motel 6. The risk of gun violence increases with the presence of sex trafficking and other illegal industries, but it also arises separately.
Just within the past year in Georgia alone, there have been at least two Motel 6 shootings, one in Columbus and one in Jonesboro, plus another in the parking lot of a Studio 6 in Duluth. Studio 6 is Motel 6’s extended stay brand.
The Columbus shooting resulted in the deaths of three adults and left a 4-year-old child from the same family severely injured.
In addition to the harm to the intended victims, the presence of violent crime in any form is a danger to everyone nearby. Stray bullets can easily pass through motel walls and hit unsuspecting bystanders. Sometimes, people who commit violent crimes will also deliberately escalate to wider-scale destruction, as was the case with one incident in Sacramento, California in 2022.
In that instance, emergency services initially responded to reports of a fire in one of the Motel 6’s rooms. Once they extinguished the blaze, they found evidence that it had been started deliberately to cover the murder of a woman whose body was found inside. A suspect was later apprehended swinging a sledgehammer at passing vehicles nearby. Neighbors commented that it was only the latest incident in an alarming rise in local crime.
Contrary to popular belief, high local crime rates actually increase, rather than decrease, a business’s responsibility for crimes that happen on its property. The more obvious it is that guests will be at risk of violent crime, the less excuse a motel has to neglect security measures such as cameras, gates, and guards.
After Violence, Fire May Be the Greatest Threat to Motel 6 Guests
Motel fires aren’t all started by arson, but they are all a serious threat to the lives of guests. To protect people, Motel 6 has a duty to make sure its buildings are free of unintentional ignition hazards, such as electrical shorts, resistant to the spread of fire, and easy to evacuate if a fire does get out of control.
Even a motel that has seemed safe for years can experience a sudden disaster, stemming from a hidden flaw.
In 2015, two guests climbed out of the window of their room at a Motel 6 in Bremerton, Washington. In the process, they ruptured a gas line, just by stepping in the wrong place. Gas poured out of the broken line for about half an hour before igniting explosively. Several people were seriously injured and a large section of the building destroyed. Amazingly, no one died, in large part thanks to the manager’s evacuation efforts. Still, the presence of such an extreme weak spot, capable of causing a catastrophic explosion, points to poor design, either by Motel 6 or the gas company.
Three years later, a Motel 6 in Huntsville, Ontario was fined for failing to replace its expired smoke detectors. Up-to-date smoke detectors are one of the most effective and affordable ways of making sure guests have time to escape in case of a fire. There’s never a good reason for a motel to withhold that safety measure.
More recently, two separate Motel 6 locations caught fire within a month of each other in early 2023. Both incidents were fatality-free, thanks to first responders. In Fresno, California, the fire department was able to contain the fire to a single room. In Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a fire that started in a mobile home parked next to the motel ended up engulfing most of the building, but police were able to evacuate all the guests before firefighters arrived.
It’s difficult to tell from these latest reports whether Motel 6 did its part for these guests, or placed them in danger in the first place and then relied solely on first responders to make sure they got out safely.
Anyone who suffered injuries in these or similar incidents, due to a lack of fire alarms, fire suppression systems, or clearly marked and lit exit routes, is entitled to compensation from the company.
Motel 6 Is Responsible for Anticipating and Preventing Accidents on Its Property
Though typically less publicized, there are many other types of preventable accidents, beyond fires, that can happen in a poorly managed or maintained motel. Overheated boilers cause scalding injures, faulty heaters cause carbon monoxide poisoning, and rust-weakened handrails cause falls.
Just like a shooting in an area where other shootings have happened before, these kinds of accidents are foreseeable. Motel 6 has a duty to intervene and address these dangers, ideally before an accident happens at all, and certainly before it can repeat itself.
In a particularly tragic case in 2018, a 3-year-old girl wandered out of the Motel 6 room where she and her parents were staying in Lufkin, Texas. She was able to get into the pool area due to an allegedly broken gate latch and was found dead at the bottom of the pool 10 minutes later. A new latch — required under the building code and replaceable in an afternoon — could have save this girl’s life.
Here in Georgia, in 2021, over 25 people had to be evacuated from a Motel 6 in Augusta, due to code violations that could not be so quickly corrected. The Augusta Planning and Development Code Enforcement Division had discovered in a routine inspection that the structure itself was in danger of collapse, due to a water leak that had gone unchecked. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the guests, some of whom had been at the motel for months, had to pack up and leave with less than an hour’s notice, due to how far the damage had already progressed.
It shouldn’t take death or outside intervention for a Motel 6 to correct a safety hazard on its property. If you’ve been harmed by such a hazard, you have the right to seek fair compensation.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured or Lost a Loved One at a Motel 6
Immediately after experiencing a serious accident or violent altercation on Motel 6 property, it’s a good idea to call 911 and also notify management briefly that an incident has occurred. This helps establish a record and makes the event more difficult to deny later.
Even if you didn’t do this at the time, however, it’s worth reaching out to a lawyer to discuss your options once you feel comfortable doing so. Your grace period to file a suit may be years long, with no police report required, especially if your case involves sexual abuse.
Avoid discussing the incident in detail with representatives of Motel 6 or any other entity that may have interests that conflict with yours. For the highest odds of full compensation, it’s best to redirect these interactions through your lawyer.
The Stoddard Firm has extensive experience holding large corporations, including motel chains, accountable for endangering and harming guests. We’re experts in personal injury, wrongful death, premises liability, negligent security, building code violations, human trafficking liability, and the innkeeper laws that make hotel and motel lawsuits unique.
To discuss your case directly with a compassionate and highly qualified lawyer today, reach out at 678-RESULTS or through our online chat function for a free consultation.