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Latino Civil Rights Group, Motel 6 Reach Lawsuit Settlement

In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, a Latino civil rights group alleged that Motel 6 broke multiple laws when Phoenix locations shared guest information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A proposed settlement in the class-action case sets aside $7.6 million for payouts to Motel 6 patrons who were harmed. Some of it will go to guests whose information was shared with ICE between Feb. 1, 2017 and Nov. 2. Another chunk will go to people questioned by federal agents. And most of the money will be for people who ended up facing deportation.

But part of the deal is Motel 6 does not admit fault. 

“It’s less important that they admit wrongdoing. And most important that we have in place processes and policies to prevent a recurrence,” said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF.

It will likely be six months before the settlement gets final approval from a judge, Saenz said.

MALDEF and Motel 6 released a joint written statement:

"Plaintiffs and Motel 6 have filed a proposed settlement agreement that would resolve the lawsuit between the two parties if it is approved by the district court,” the statement said. “In September 2017, when this issue emerged, the company launched an investigation and issued a clear directive to all locations nationwide, emphasizing that the practice is prohibited.  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.

“As part of the agreement, Motel 6 has implemented additional controls to protect private information and enhance corporate oversight in cases where law enforcement requests information, including when lawful requests are made.

“The agreement, if approved by the court, would also establish a claims process for both named plaintiffs and others who were impacted by the sharing of guest information with immigration authorities."

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.