Skip to content

Illustration by Security Management

Motel Settles Lawsuit with Human Trafficking Survivor

After Lisa Ricchio saw her attacker, abuser, and captor arrested and receive a prison sentence, she decided to also hold the motel where she was held hostage accountable.

In 2011, Ricchio was held against her will for several days by a man she thought she knew in the Shangri-La Motel in Seekonk, Massachusetts. The man had suddenly become violent, trapping Ricchio in the motel room, sexually assaulting her, and expressing intent to have Ricchio work for him as a prostitute. According to NPR, Ricchio claimed that at least twice during her time at the motel, staff there observed she was in trouble and did not help her. 

Four years after her escape from the Shangri-La Motel room, Ricchio filed a lawsuit against the hotel under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, claiming the motel's owners profited from the incident. The case was eventually settled in December 2019, and after roughly four years of delays, motions, and appeals, Ricchio was compensated for an undisclosed financial amount. For the first time, a hotel or motel was sued for liability in a human trafficking crime.

The Human Trafficking Institute estimates that at least 25 new cases were filed in the United States against hospitality companies under the federal act throughout the past year.

You can read more about protecting staff and facilities from engendering human traficking at hotels or motels in Security Management's article, "No Vacancy."