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Judge to give Motel 6 settlement preliminary nod in suit

Gavel shot
Posted at 4:47 PM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 19:48:06-04

PHOENIX (AP) - A federal judge told Motel 6 and civil rights attorneys Friday he plans to give his preliminary nod to a settlement in the case involving thousands of guests said to have had their privacy violated when the national chain gave their information to immigration authorities.

Judge David Campbell told attorneys for Motel 6 and the rights group Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund he would approve the preliminary settlement by month's end if minor changes are made in the document.

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the civil rights group, said he hoped the judge's decision would send a message to other companies that had considered assisting immigration authorities. Several major hotel companies, including Marriott and Choice Hotels in recent days, have said they will not let Immigration and Customs Enforcement use rooms as detention facilities.

"We hope this decision deters any company thinking of lending a hand to immigration officials," Saenz said. "It's just bad business, which you can see by looking at the settlement."

The settlement proposes to make $10 million available for claims by members of the class action lawsuit. A class member could get $75 if that person was a registered guest; up to $10,000 if the person was placed in deportation proceedings as a result of having his or her information shared; and as much as $200,000 if a person incurred legal fees to defend his or her presence in the United States.

The proposed settlement also expands the class to include guests at Motel 6 between February 2015 and June 2019.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued Motel 6 in January 2018, saying that giving guests' information to immigration agents without a warrant violated privacy and civil rights laws.

The chain's owner, G6 Hospitality LLC in Carrollton, Texas, said it later issued a directive banning the practice.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich earlier this year asked U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell not to approve the earlier version of the agreement between the two sides, saying that only a fraction of the thousands of people directly connected to the case would benefit because most of the money would have gone to migrant advocacy groups.

Campbell denied Brnovich's request because the sides had told the court they were renegotiating the agreement.