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An update from Attorney General Bob Ferguson
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--- NEWS RELEASE ---
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 28, 2019

Claims process now open in $12M Motel 6 privacy case
More than 100,000 guests whose private information was shared by Motel 6 eligible for part of $12M resolution

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced the claims process is now open for more than 100,000 guests whose private information was released by national hotel chain Motel 6 without their knowledge or consent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Those individuals are eligible for their share of the $12 million resolution that resulted from Attorney General Ferguson’s lawsuit against Motel 6.

Guests who stayed at one of seven Motel 6 locations in Washington state between Jan. 1, 2015 and Sept. 17, 2017 may be eligible for restitution and can file a claim online at www.WashingtonMotel6Settlement.com. The locations are: Bellingham, North Everett, South Everett, South Seattle, South Tacoma and two SeaTac locations.

Provided they file a claim, all guests whose personal information was unlawfully handed over to ICE without their knowledge or consent will receive a share of the restitution. The amount of restitution each individual receives will depend on a number of factors, including the number of claims and the severity of harms suffered due to Motel 6’s conduct.

The third-party companies (AB Data and Centro de los Derechos del Migrante Inc.) handling the claims process are not part of the federal government and will not turn over information to immigration authorities. Individuals submitting a claim are not required to disclose their immigration status or pay any fees to take part.

The claim form is available in English and Spanish.

“Motel 6 violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians without their knowledge or consent, and paid $12 million to avoid facing my legal team in trial,” Ferguson said. “We want to ensure everyone whose privacy was violated by Motel 6’s unlawful conduct receives some restitution, which is why we’re encouraging eligible individuals to file claims.”

Restitution process

Ferguson encourages consumers and their family members affected by Motel 6’s unlawful policy to file a claim for restitution. Individuals and families can file a claim online, in English or Spanish, at www.WashingtonMotel6Settlement.com.

Claims must be submitted by Dec. 31, 2019. Individuals have the option of submitting the claim form online, through the mail or via the mobile messaging app WhatsApp. More information on the claims process, including alternative ways to submit a claim for restitution and a contact number for questions, is available on the claims administrator’s website.

Affected individuals will receive a letter and claim form in the mail at the address Motel 6 had on file when they stayed at one of the motel locations. The letter contains details of the resolution and how to submit a claim; however, individuals can also fill out online claims forms and do not need the letter or to wait to file a claim.

The amount of restitution a guest receives will vary. Guests whose information Motel 6 shared with ICE, but who suffered no further consequences, are still eligible for compensation. Guests who faced questioning, arrest or deportation will receive more restitution for the serious harms they suffered as a result of Motel 6's actions.

Individuals who suffered harm from investigation, detention or deportation following their stay at one of the seven Motel 6 locations will have an opportunity to share their experience in order to secure compensation as part of the claims process. Binational migrants' rights organization Centro de los Derechos del Migrante Inc. (CDM) will contact these individuals to discuss the harms they experienced and complete the claims process.

Case background

Today’s announcement is the result of a resolution in Ferguson’s lawsuit against Motel 6 in April.

Many Motel 6 locations in Washington turned over the personal information of their guests to ICE on a daily basis without requiring a warrant. From 2015 to 2017, seven Washington locations shared the personal information of every guest, including customers’ names, driver’s license numbers, passport/green card/other ID numbers and dates of birth.

When Ferguson announced the resolution in April, the office was aware that Motel 6 shared the private information of approximately 80,000 guests. Once Motel 6 provided the full list of guests who stayed at their hotel chain for the entire time frame, that number has increased to more than 100,000 people.

Each time Motel 6 released a guest list, it included the private information of every guest at the hotel without their knowledge or consent, violating their expectation of privacy.

In addition to violating the privacy of tens of thousands of guests, Motel 6’s disclosures resulted in ICE’s targeted investigation of many guests with Latino-sounding names on or near the Motel 6 properties where they stayed. For some guests, Motel 6’s disclosures resulted in the loss of their homes and jobs and separation from their families.

For example, one Seattle man stayed at a Motel 6 near SeaTac for one night wrapping Christmas presents for his four children. ICE agents approached him in the hotel’s parking lot, detained him and deported him some days later. His wife had to retrieve the presents and his other belongings from the Motel 6 after his arrest. The man was the sole provider for the household, and his wife is currently struggling to support their toddler and four other children.

The lawsuit asserted that Motel 6’s disclosures of private guest information violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

As a result of Ferguson’s case, Motel 6 paid $12 million to the office. Additionally, the company signed a legally binding commitment to no longer hand over guest information without a warrant or other lawful basis at all locations ― a policy it had to adopt nationwide. The resolution also required the company to provide training for its employees to ensure they do not release guests’ private information unlawfully.

More information about the Attorney General’s resolution with Motel 6 and background on the case can be found here.

Assistant Attorneys General Mitchell Riese and Andrea Brenneke of the AGO’s Civil Rights Division are handling the case for Washington.

Ferguson created the Wing Luke Civil Rights Division in 2015 to protect the rights of all Washington residents by enforcing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Ferguson named the division for Wing Luke, who served as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Washington in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to become the first person of color elected to the Seattle City Council and the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest.
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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
 
Contacts:
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov
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