Almost 2,000 guests of Blackstone Group Inc.’s Motel 6 are poised for cash payouts in a settlement with the hotel chain for sharing their names with federal immigration agents.
Lawyers on both sides of the case urged a federal judge in Phoenix to sign off on the deal Friday, more than a year after he voiced concern that many of the guests would be hard to find or unwilling to come forward to collect compensation. In a filing last month that includes a tally of the claims submitted by guests, the attorneys argued the accord is adequate and reasonable.
Motel 6 Operating LP agreed in June to pay as much as $10 million to resolve claims that some of its locations in Arizona and Washington state voluntarily shared information about guests -- particularly ones with Latino-sounding names or Mexican identification -- with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
The arrangement -- which allowed agents to burst into motel rooms in the middle of the night -- first came to light in 2017 as the Trump administration escalated a crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The government hasn’t disclosed how many people ICE contacted from the disclosed guest logs.
“Motel 6 fully recognizes the seriousness of the situation and accepts full responsibility for both compensating those who were harmed and taking the necessary steps to ensure that we protect the privacy of our guests,” the company said in a statement.
Senior U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell took the request for settlement approval under advisement at Friday’s hearing.
The vast majority of guests who filed claims -- but suffered nothing more than having their names disclosed -- are entitled to $75 under the settlement. A smaller number who were questioned, detained or targeted for deportation because the chain gave their names to ICE are eligible for as much as $200,000.
Based on 2,061 total claims -- including 85 that were rejected and 43 that were deficient and are still being processed -- attorneys told the judge the final payout to guests may be as low as $1.9 million or as high as $5.5 million.
Read More: Motel 6 Plotted With ICE to Deport Immigrants, Guests Claim
Motel 6 will get a $1.5 million refund from the settlement money that’s left over and the remainder of the $10 million will be awarded to non-profit organizations that offer legal aid to Latino residents in the U.S.
The company last year settled a similar suit by Washington state for $12 million. The chain agreed not to share guest information with law enforcement, including ICE, without a warrant or subpoena, except when someone is in imminent danger.
Motel 6’s chief executive officer left shortly after the chain’s voluntary cooperation with ICE was disclosed.
The cases is Unknown Party v. Motel 6, 2:18-cv-00242, U.S. District Court, District of Arizona (Phoenix).
© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.