EVERETT — Some Motel 6 guests who stayed in Everett and other Puget Sound-area locations can now seek restitution for the chain illegally sharing their private information with federal immigration officials.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Wednesday that the claims process had opened. More than 100,000 guests may be eligible if they stayed at any of the seven motels between Jan. 1, 2015, and Sept. 17, 2017.
The money comes from a resolution Ferguson’s office reached with the Carrollton, Texas-based chain this spring.
“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 in an announcement. “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.”
The Everett-area locations are at 10006 Evergreen Way and 224 128th St. SW. Two more are in SeaTac, with the others in Bellingham, south Seattle and south Tacoma.
Ferguson said the state Supreme Court has ruled that guest-registry information is private and that Motel 6 violated the law each time it gave out private information, including names, driver’s license numbers and details for other personal identity documents.
At a Motel 6 in Everett, U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents visited early in the morning or late at night and received a daily list of all guests, according to Ferguson’s office. The agents would target guests with Latino-sounding names. The agency would check whether any of the guests were wanted in connection with civil immigration issues, the attorney general’s lawsuit alleged.
Guests whose information was shared without consent are eligible for a share of the multimillion dollar settlement. Compensation varies based on factors such as the amount of harm the guest suffered, including questioning by ICE agents, arrest or deportation.
Claims can be submitted in English or Spanish by Dec. 31. They can be returned online, through the mail or via the mobile messaging site WhatsApp.
Private companies unaffiliated with the federal government are handling the claims process and will not turn over information to immigration authorities, according to the attorney general. People who submit a claim are not required to disclose their immigration status.
In addition to paying $12 million to resolve the attorney general’s lawsuit, Motel 6 signed a legally binding commitment to no longer hand over guest information without a warrant or other lawful basis, Ferguson’s office said. The company adopted that policy nationwide. The resolution also required the company to provide training for its employees to prevent similar problems.
Assistant Attorneys General Mitchell Riese and Andrea Brenneke of the office’s Civil Rights Division handled the case.
More info: www.WashingtonMotel6Settlement.com
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@herald net.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.