Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is, in its own words, the world’s largest hotel franchising company. It owns dozens of hospitality brands, including Howard Johnson, Travelodge, Days Inn, and Super 8, with thousands of franchised locations around the world.

Unfortunately, bearing a familiar brand name doesn’t necessarily make a hotel a safe place to stay.

Below, we’ll go over common reasons why you might find yourself needing to sue Wyndham or one of its franchisees. If at any point you would prefer to speak directly with a hotel lawyer in Atlanta about your specific case, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.

Hospitality Giants Like Wyndham Have the Power to Improve Hotel Safety Standards

Hotels, like all physical businesses, have a duty to anticipate and address potential threats to their guests’ health and safety as well as reasonably possible.

In theory, what qualifies as a “reasonable” safety measure isn’t limited to any set of official laws or industry standards. If a threat can be identified through experience or common sense, and an option exists to reduce that threat without seriously interfering with the hotel’s ability to do business, the hotel has an automatic obligation to take that option. Hotels that fail in this obligation and allow guests to be harmed in foreseeable, preventable ways can be held liable for the damages.

That said, it’s much easier to prove that a hotel behaved negligently if its behavior violated a formal safety code, or diverged significantly from the standards of its peers. And unfortunately, when it comes to guest safety, the applicable codes and standard practices of the hospitality industry arguably fall a long way short of reasonable.

For example, there is no federal law requiring U.S hotels to use carbon monoxide detectors, and many hotels still choose not to, in spite of the fact that these devices are cheap, readily available, and highly effective at saving lives.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a known threat that can strike in any building with fuel-burning appliances, and it has at several Wyndham-branded properties. Between 2013 and the present, nearly a hundred Wyndham guests were hospitalized due to various carbon monoxide incidents at the Microtel in Gassaway, West Virginia, the Hawthorne Suites in Warren, Michigan, and The Wyndham Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio.

Unguarded swimming pools are another great example of a proven safety hazard that hotels typically leave unaddressed as part of standard operating procedure. The presence of a professional lifeguard greatly reduces the risk of deadly pool accidents, especially for children. Yet the hospitality industry continues to use pools as attractions without paying for lifeguard services, and children die every year as a result.

In June of 2021, a 14-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were swimming together in the pool of the Wyndham Orlando Resort in Florida, when the boy began struggling and slipped under the water. The boy’s father had reportedly stepped away from the pool area, and while the girl’s mother was supervising them both, she briefly looked away to order food. The girl initially thought the boy was joking, then dragged him out of the deep end while calling for help, but it was too late. He died of his injuries in the hospital.

To be clear, any hotel company can choose to tighten its own safety standards at any time, to protect its own guests and set an example for the industry at large, but they’re generally unmotivated to do so. Sticking to the same old standards is cheaper, and makes it easier for each company to continue claiming that there’s nothing more it could reasonably do. Challenging these standards in court isn’t easy, but sometimes, it’s the only way to drive change.

Hotel Safety Isn’t All About Accident Prevention

Accidents aren’t the only dangers that hotel guests face. Anticipating and addressing potential threats to guest safety also means taking an honest look at the likelihood of criminal violence, and investing in security accordingly.

Gun violence is a known issue in many parts of Georgia, including at local Wyndham hotels. Within the last year alone, there have been shootings at the Days Inn in Statesboro, the Super 8 in Columbus, and the Baymont in Norcross, all of which are Wyndham brands.

A Georgia woman also disappeared while staying at a Club Wyndham in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Police later arrested a man, also from Georgia, who is currently suspected of murdering her in the club’s parking garage.

Hotels, like many other businesses, often argue that they have no control over the criminal acts of guests and intruders on their property. In truth, while it may not be possible to make any hotel 100% crime-proof, there are many security measures proven to reduce the risk of violence on a property, such as:

  • Keeping common areas well-lit and covered by visible, functional surveillance cameras.
  • Requiring guests to show ID upon check-in.
  • Physically restricting access to guest-only areas.
  • Employing a 24-hour security guard presence if necessary.

If you’ve been assaulted or lost a loved one to violence at a Wyndham hotel, there’s a good chance management was aware of the threat and had the chance to provide better protection. If so, a lawyer can help you prove it.

One of the Largest Sex Trafficking Lawsuits of All Time Is in Progress Against Wyndham

Sex trafficking operations often rely on otherwise legitimate hotels to provide rooms to hold and sell victims. These operations are sometimes subtle, but often aren’t. The warning signs range from victims looking drugged, bruised, or afraid of their traveling companions, to an excess of visitors in certain rooms, to outright screams for help and acts of violence committed in full view of hotel staff.

A hotel’s legal obligation to protect guests from foreseeable harm is nothing new, and the harm that sex trafficking causes to its victims should be obvious. Yet according to thousands of survivor reports, ignoring and even assisting sex traffickers was once standard practice across much of the hospitality industry.

It wasn’t until the last five years or so that U.S victims began suing hotels for participating in sex trafficking — and winning.

Naturally, as the world’s largest hotel franchising company, Wyndham’s name has come up a lot in the recent push for accountability.

Currently, attorneys are working to consolidate thousands of near-identical sex trafficking complaints against Wyndham Hotels, as well as Red Roof and Best Western, into a single case in Columbus, Ohio. Other similar cases, many of them denied consolidation back in 2020, have also gone forward in their local jurisdictions.

In just a few of the complaints from the open cases, one woman claims that she was held for trafficking purposes in a Howard Johnson by Wyndham in Pennsylvania, where the general manager would give her trafficker free rooms in exchange for sex with her. Another says she was trafficked out of a Super 8 by Wyndham in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota when she was 15 years old, and that the hotel allowed this while noting in its own records that she was a minor staying for “prostitution related” reasons.

If you’ve been sexually exploited in a Wyndham-branded hotel, you are far from alone, and you deserve to be fought for, by someone who will make sure your case doesn’t slip through the cracks.

Wyndham Has Fought Hard to Delegate Liability While Keeping Profits

The Wyndham company’s go-to strategy for handling accusations of negligence is fairly typical for a multinational corporation with a franchised business model. In response to both the CO poisoning incident in Michigan and the recent wave of sex trafficking complaints, Wyndham stated that the company is not responsible for what happens in its franchised locations.

Like many rich and famous companies, Wyndham’s franchised structure does indeed insulate it from much of the legal responsibility for what actually happens on the properties that bear its name.

Officially, each Wyndham-branded hotel is an independent business, owned by a local franchisee. The franchisee pays Wyndham for the use of a brand, and Wyndham provides instructions on how to meet any company standards associated with that brand.

One of the main reasons hotel owners pay for franchises is because the public tends to put more trust in well-known brands. However, companies like Wyndham are under no legal obligation to institute or enforce any particular safety or quality standards to justify that trust.

Even though franchised hotels are the source of Wyndham’s wealth, it’s the franchisees who bear most of the liability associated with running a hotel. The franchisees can even be contractually obligated to indemnify the Wyndham company in case of a lawsuit. Wyndham has already sued a few hotel owners for failing to do this in recent sex trafficking cases.

As frustrating as the franchise system can be for people who’ve been harmed under the Wyndham banner, it’s no reason to shy away from pursuing legitimate lawsuits against Wyndham properties.

In spite of their claims to the contrary, franchisors are not completely immune to litigation. For example, if Wyndham provided a franchisee with instructions that actively contributed to an accident, or had documented knowledge that it was receiving income from sex trafficking and did nothing to stop it, that would make Wyndham a perfectly valid defendant for a lawsuit.

Even in cases where only the franchisee is liable, it’s important to recognize that the franchisees aren’t necessarily small companies. They might be smaller than Wyndham, but many of them do have the means to compensate victims in their own right.

What to Do If You’ve Been Harmed at a Wyndham Hotel

If you’ve been involved in an accident or violent incident at a Wyndham hotel, following these steps can help you protect yourself and your interests:

  1. Get somewhere safe. If there’s any ongoing threat to your life or health, remove yourself from the hazardous situation and call for emergency services.
  2. Seek medical care. If the incident is severe enough to prompt a response by paramedics, cooperate with them. If not, make an appointment with your own doctor as soon as possible to assess the extent of your injuries. This is important for building both your personal treatment plan and your potential case against the Wyndham hotel.
  3. Preserve the evidence. If you were safely able to take pictures or video of the incident, make backups and keep them in a safe place. If the incident was criminal in nature, file a police report and request a copy. Also hold on to any receipts for related expenses, and any texts or emails that help establish a timeline of events.
  4. Limit contact with Wyndham and its franchisees. Making a statement or getting into a debate with a hotel representative can hurt your case. It’s best to notify the hotel briefly that an incident has occurred, and defer all other communication until a lawyer can handle it for you.
  5. Get a lawyer. Look for someone in your area with a strong track record of success in similar cases against franchised hotels.

The Stoddard Firm is committed to helping survivors of hotel accidents and violence get the compensation they deserve, while holding powerful companies accountable. We’re experts in all relevant areas of civil law, including personal injury, wrongful death, premises liability, negligent security, sex trafficking law, and franchise law.

We’ll work with you to reconstruct a timeline of exactly what happened to you, who could have prevented it, and how. If possible, we’ll take the fight to the Wyndham company itself. If not, we’ll investigate other negligent parties and come up with a strategy to get you the best settlement available.

To get started discussing your case with a hotel lawyer in Georgia, reach out through our online chat function, or at 678-RESULTS, for a free consultation.

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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