Courtesy: Linda Satter | News Source: nwaonline.com
A lawsuit filed in October in Pulaski County Circuit Court seeking to hold a Little Rock hotel liable for sex-trafficking activities was moved Monday to federal court.
The suit was filed against Seven Star Hotels Group, doing business as Quality Inn and Suites at 6100 Mitchell Drive near Interstate 30 and Geyer Springs Road.
Attorneys with the Rainwater, Holt & Sexton law firm filed it on behalf of a woman referred to only as Jane Doe, who said she was held in a fourth-floor room from May through July 2014 and forced to have sex with 10 to 12 people a day, and that the money the customers paid for sex was given to the trafficker.
Meredith Moore, one of the plaintiff's attorneys, said in October that the women and girls held against their will for sex-trafficking purposes "are not prostitutes."
Moore and Lauren Manatt, the other attorney who filed the suit, are expected to challenge the defendants' attempt to move the case to federal court. The attorneys said in the complaint that the case is "non-removable" because Seven Star is an entity of Arkansas.
The hotel has changed hands six times since 2002, according to property records. Shri Jinasha LLC, which was originally named as a defendant, purchased it in 2011 and sold it to Seven Star Hotels Group Inc. in 2015. In March, White Hall-based Aniary LLC bought the 100-room, four-story hotel for $2.1 million.
The lawsuit contends that Doe was beaten and choked several times a week by her trafficker and that she screamed when the trafficker assaulted her, but that hotel managers and employees never interceded or called 911 on her behalf. The woman says the fourth floor was used exclusively for human trafficking and that she was among dozens of women -- some of whom were minors -- held captive there.
The hotel's new co-owner, Henry Patel, said in October that he was unaware of the hotel's history and is against sex trafficking. He said he and his partner are working to ensure that all patrons are safe.
The transferred case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker.
NW News on 11/28/2019