OTLA Trial Lawyer Winter 2022

34 Trial Lawyer • Winter 2022 national and international brands, see the tremendous PR value in appearing to crack down on sex trafficking. Plenty of news releases trumpet their efforts. Hilton, for example, not only became a signatory to The Code in 2011, but in response to a child sex trafficking scandal at its properties also formulated its own “Code of Conduct.” It states, “Hilton condemns all forms of human trafficking and commercial exploitation… we are fully committed, in each and every one of the markets in which we operate, to protecting individuals from all forms of abuse and exploitation. We expect our Team Members as well as our business partners to help us meet this commitment.” In a lawsuit against Hilton for the wrongful death of a trafficking victim who was murdered by a violent sex buyer at one of its Portland properties, we noted the commitment Hilton had made to protecting victims of trafficking and cited specific recommendations made by ECPAT. In response, Hilton’s attorneys wrote: “Plaintiff suggests that the Hilton Defendants had a duty to [implement ECPAT policies]. Even if Hilton had a duty to implement such policies (which it does not), none of these activities would have prevented the harm caused by the murderer. The fact that the Hilton Defendants did not engage in these procedures was not the cause of death. Plaintiff alleges no actual facts that connect these procedures to what actually happened the night of the death.” It should be noted, many of the hotel anti-trafficking recommendations in fact pertained directly to the fact-pattern of the murder. One can only hope jurors are outraged by such callous and tonedeaf arguments. It’s “only” prostitution, not trafficking Another common line of defense in sex trafficking cases is that perhaps the hotel knew or should have known Human Trafficking Continued from p 33