LOS ANGELES – Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) issued the statement below in response to a brief filed by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich asking that a federal court deny approval of a proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit against Motel 6.
MALDEF sued the national motel chain in January 2018 on behalf of guests who stayed at Motel 6 nationwide whose privacy was violated after personal information was voluntarily provided to federal immigration officials without a warrant. A preliminary agreement was reached in November 2018, and an updated settlement proposal is to be filed with the court on June 28:
“Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s objection to settlement of the class action against Motel 6 is utterly meritless. It grossly mischaracterizes the proposed settlement – both the original settlement proposal and the new proposal that will be filed in court in late June. Brnovich suggests that he wants a better settlement for class members, but the truth is that he simply seeks to prevent any financial support for important charitable organizations that serve the immigrant community, and not incidentally to reduce the amount of money that Motel 6 would ultimately pay for its allegedly improper activity. Under the settlement proposal, the charitable organizations would only receive contributions if an unexpectedly small number of class members file claims in the settlement process. In other words, if enough class members file meritorious claims, the charitable organizations would receive nothing because they only receive payment if there are insufficient claims from class members to exhaust the mandatory settlement fund. If, on the other hand, a smaller number of class members file claims, Motel 6 should not benefit from that circumstance by receiving all of its money back. Instead, as courts have long recognized, it is appropriate to ensure that any defendant pay a minimum amount for improper activity and that the extra settlement money go to non-profit organizations serving the class community. In the Motel 6 case, it is appropriate that those organizations serve immigrants because immigrants make up the vast majority of the victims of Motel 6’s improper conduct.
“It is of course ironic that Brnovich objects to this settlement when he did nothing to step in to protect the rights of the immigrants who faced horrific consequences as a result of Motel 6 sharing private information with federal immigration agents. If Brnovich really cares about the class members, he should work to ensure that as many of them as possible file claims for compensation. That could then ensure that the entire pool of compensation is paid directly to class members.”