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Sex Trafficking Survivor Files Lawsuit Against Red Roof Inns

On November 14, 2022, Benoit Law Firm, PLLC, joined by Levin Papantonio Rafferty (LPR), filed a lawsuit against Red Roof Inns and Red Roof Franchising, LLC, and other local hotel entities on behalf of a survivor of a severe form of sex trafficking. Allegations by “Jane Doe” include that she was sex trafficked, sexually exploited, and victimized by traffickers at a Red Roof Inn brand hotel, as well as several local hotels and motels, the Defendants. The Plaintiff states that the Defendants, including Red Roof Inns corporation, knew or should have known about the occurrence of sex trafficking on these properties and turned a blind eye.

The Complaint was filed in the United States District Court Eastern District of North Carolina (Case No. 4:22-cv-00139-BO) under the Federal William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008.

“Human trafficking harms individuals, families, and society beyond measure,” said Carissa Phelps, attorney and survivor leader at Levin Papantonio Rafferty. “The dual purpose of civil lawsuits in North Carolina and across the United States is to first seek justice for survivors. In doing so, we secondarily hold accountable businesses like hotels and motels that too often facilitate and benefit from the horrors of sex trafficking.

“It comes down to a choice of what is more expensive or profitable--protecting victims who seem to be thrown away from society or looking the other way?” Phelps added. “Until it costs more to look the other way, we can expect the same behaviors again and again.”

Doe Was Advertised Online and Harbored for Sex in Hotel Rooms

Doe became a victim of a “severe form” of human trafficking in 2019 after two affiliated individuals groomed her and used tactics of force, fraud, and coercion to force her into commercial sexual exploitation. Throughout this time, Doe suffered “violence, trauma, brutal beatings, exploitation, manipulation, threats, isolation, humiliation, and degradation,” the Complaint states.

Against Doe’s will, traffickers advertised her on a website “well known for human trafficking,” the Complaint alleges. She was commercially sexually exploited and physically tortured at various hotel properties in Fayetteville, NC, including the Red Roof Inn® by Red Roof, Coliseum Inn, Cardinal Inn & Suites, Crown Inn, and Airport Inn Budget Motel. Within these rooms, while hotel operators and staff looked the other way, Doe was maintained and held for the purpose of commercial sex between five and ten times a day.

Red Roof Inns, a publicly traded company, provides franchise opportunities for its hotel and motel brands through Red Roof Franchising, LLC. The former is considered one of the fastest-growing franchises in 2017 and has around 650 branded properties across the globe. The additional Defendants in the lawsuit include local managers and motel owners where Doe was trafficked.

The attorneys representing Doe aim to hold the hotel companies accountable for benefiting from Doe's sex trafficking through, among other things, room rentals to traffickers and buyers.

“Human trafficking is a scourge across this country, and North Carolina is no different,” said Dexter Benoit, founder and managing partner of Benoit Law Firm. “The purpose of the lawsuit is to hold accountable those who benefit from this horrible practice. We look forward to seeking justice for our client.”

Hotels Knew or Should Have Known of the Sex Trafficking

According to the Complaint, the Brand Defendants in this lawsuit had access to information that could have protected Doe. The hotel staff failed to use the resources and powers it had to protect sex trafficking victims, including Doe, from being trafficked at their property. Red Roof Inns, the Brand Defendant, allegedly had at its disposal public police reports and news reports, as well as internal documentation from customers and employees regarding sex trafficking at multiple Red Roof Inns at its growing brand of hotels across the country.

Local operators also allegedly ignored and/or defended the numerous online customer reviews of the properties referring to the prevalence of obvious prostitution and pimp violence at their properties.

In addition, by failing to train employees to recognize, report, and respond to signs of sex trafficking, the Defendants in this lawsuit further enabled the perpetuation of Doe’s suffering. “One of the hotels mentioned in the lawsuit exists in a high crime area, yet the staff training it provided to prevent human slavery amounted to a mere 10 minutes,” said LPR Attorney Chris Tisi. “Certainly, a life is worth more than that.”


About Dexter Benoit

Dexter Benoit is the founder and managing partner of Benoit Law Firm. After moving from Chicago, Illinois where he spent years representing insurance companies and corporate defendants accused of negligent behavior, Dexter realized that his true passion was in helping those who have been harmed instead of the companies or people who harmed them. As a result, in 2011, Dexter opened the doors to a small, boutique law firm whose sole focus was to serve as a voice to those whose voice would otherwise not be heard.

In 2014, Dexter was named Panel Member of the Year by the Mecklenburg County Bar Association for his personal injury representation of clients in and around Charlotte. He has also been named a Lifetime Member of the Million Dollar Advocate Forum. Membership in this exclusive group is limited to trial lawyers who have won million-dollar verdicts and settlements. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

About Chris Tisi

Christopher V. Tisi is a shareholder with Levin Papantonio Rafferty. For over 30 years, Mr. Tisi has been a nationally recognized trial and appellate lawyer with extensive experience litigating mass tort, pharmaceutical, medical device, and major personal injury cases. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Tisi has been appointed by federal courts throughout the United States to handle some of the nation’s largest and most complex pharmaceutical and mass tort cases. He has tried numerous complex pharmaceutical and professional liability cases including numerous cases resulting in verdicts 1 million dollars or more.

About Carissa Phelps

A leader in the anti-human trafficking movement for over a decade, Carissa Phelps is an attorney who has leveraged her education, life experiences, and challenges to build and launch a platform for survivors of all forms of human trafficking to create policies and educate policymakers and first responders about the impacts of human trafficking. Ms. Phelps is a sought-after speaker and ally to local communities, non-profit agencies, and individuals. She has helped to bring national and local attention to human trafficking and has been part of significant changes in related legislation, policies, and procedures. Ms. Phelps is the subject an award-winning documentary about her life, CARISSA, which premiered in 2008. The film, along with her 2012 memoir Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets One Helping Hand at a Time (Viking), are used across the country as teaching tools for child welfare professionals, human trafficking survivors, and advocates of justice reform.

About Benoit Law Firm

Benoit Law Firm is a personal injury and wrongful death firm with offices in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Dexter Benoit launched the firm in 2011 and has since succeeded in winning million-dollar settlements for many of the firm’s clients.

About Levin Papantonio Rafferty

LPR has been representing injured people across the globe since 1955. The firm has gained national recognition as one of the most successful personal injury firms in the world and has been featured on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, as well as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Forbes, and National Law Journal.

Levin Papantonio Rafferty attorneys handle lawsuits throughout the country involving prescription drugs, medical devices, medical malpractice, car accidents, and business litigation. Levin Papantonio Rafferty has earned more than $30 billion in jury verdicts and settlements, litigating against some of the largest corporations in the world.

For questions about the firm’s legal practice, call (800) 277-1193.