Individual employees and franchises in Arizona sent guest lists to ICE, which were used to harass, detain and even deport guests.
A federal judge has signed off on a class action settlement that’ll award millions of dollars to Motel 6 guests whose personal information was illegally given to immigration agents.
AZCentral.com reports that an estimated 2,000 class members will receive part of the $10 million settlement. Payouts will range from $75 to $200,000, depending on each plaintiff’s claim and damages.
The agreement, adds AZCentral, was announced Tuesday by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), which fought the case against Motel 6.
In a statement, MALDEF President Thomas A. Saenz said he’s happy that Motel 6 agreed both to financial recompense and policy revision. As part of the settlement, Motel 6 will adhere to stringent limitations on how and with whom it shares guest information.
“We are grateful that Motel 6 will change practices and is compensating those harmed,” Saenz said. “The substantial settlement should stand as a warning to all other proprietors not to engage in similar conduct.”
A statement provided by MALDEF and the Ortega law firm in 2018 details the claims against Motel 6.
“The suit alleged that providing guests’ personal information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents without a warrant violated federal and civil rights and privacy laws, including those barring discrimination based on national origin, and those protecting unreasonable searches and breaches of privacy,” they said.
The lawsuit claimed that Motel 6 employees—acting independently or under the direction of local management—would send guest lists to ICE agents, either at the agency’s request or without provocation.
The consequences for guests varied. Many were never contacted by ICE, while others were interrogated in their hotel rooms. Some were detained, arrest and deported.
Claims to the $10 million award will be disbursed depending on how individual plaintiffs were affected. Claimants whose personal information was given to ICE, but did not otherwise experience “adverse consequences,” will receive the minimum $75 award. Those who encountered immigration authorities will receive anywhere between $5,075 and $200,000, with exact amounts determined by a formula involving “arrests, detentions, placement in removal proceedings, the involvement of children, legal fees incurred in defending against immigration actions, and out of pocket costs.”
Nevertheless, the settlement was briefly held up by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which pushed for a higher pay-out. According to the state attorney general, too much of the settlement—slightly more than half, by some estimations—will go to MALDEF and other organizations, rather than victims of Motel 6’s misdoing.
However, the attorney general’s request was rejected by the federal judge overseeing the case, who said the office’s claim wasn’t supported by data or precedent.