ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona AG Mark Brnovich asks judge to reject $7.6M Motel 6 settlement

May 30, 2019, 7:30 PM
(Twitter Photo/@Motel6)...
(Twitter Photo/@Motel6)
(Twitter Photo/@Motel6)

PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich last week asked a judge to deny approval of a proposed $7.6 million class-action settlement with Motel 6 over the sharing of customer information with U.S. immigration officials.

Brnovich filed a brief Friday in U.S. District Court of the District of Arizona arguing that “the majority, if not all, of the consumer portion” of the settlement money would go to parties not connected to the class.

“The current proposed settlement is structured in a way that diverts the vast majority of the $7.6 million in settlement cash to four different charities that deal with border and immigration issues generally and will be unlikely to directly benefit the class members affected in this case,” Brnovich’s office said Wednesday in a press release.

Brnovich wants Judge David Campbell to order the parties involved to negotiate a new settlement “that properly directs the eventual settlement proceeds into the hands of the class members,” the release said.

A Latino rights group countered Brnovich’s contention, saying it was pointless because the agreement already has been renegotiated.

“There was no renegotiation because of what the Arizona attorney general said or filed,” Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said Thursday. “The specific aspect he objects to will not change.”

The organization is representing eight unnamed people who stayed at two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix in June and July 2017. All but one were arrested as a result of Motel 6 employees voluntarily giving their personal information and whereabouts to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Saenz called Brnovich’s claims a mischaracterization. The charities will only get a payout if there are an insufficient number of claims with merit, he said. Otherwise, they will receive nothing.

“If, on the other hand, a small number of class members file claims, Motel 6 should not benefit from that circumstance by receiving all of its money back,” Saenz said. “The idea is there should be a minimum payout to incentivize better conduct in the future.”

Attorneys are finalizing the new proposal for a sum that is not yet public, Saenz said, and it will be filed in court by the end of June.

Campbell told attorneys for the organization and Motel 6 in January that he needed more information before he could approve the settlement. Among his questions were how many people were affected. Both sides have said as many as tens of thousands of guests had their personal information shared.

Besides compensating targeted guests, the agreement would order the budget motel chain to prevent the practice of sharing private information.

Motel 6 settled a similar lawsuit last month in Washington state for $12 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona AG Mark Brnovich asks judge to reject $7.6M Motel 6 settlement