In a move that most would call a surprising, members of a Florida Senate Committee pulled a bill that would allow human trafficking survivors to sue Florida hotels and other businesses where they were sold for sex. The partnering House bill had already passed two committees and was headed to the House floor.
“This was a chance for our state leaders to take a stand against modern day slavery and they chose the hospitality lobby” says Haggard Law Firm Managing Partner Michael Haggard.
Haggard, who is the current president of the National Crime Victim’s Bar Association, added “to say this is disappointing is a vast understatement. Florida ranks as the third worst in number of human trafficking cases in our country. Studies show that the majority of trafficking victims, primarily for sexual exploitation, are abused in hotels and motels.”
The NCVBA has a long-standing commitment to civil justice for victims. As President, Haggard plays an intricate role in advising and setting the annual agenda on what issues the organization will focus on in support of crime victims. This year Haggard has earmarked support of human trafficking victims as a primary goal.
The Orlando Sentinel reported: “…ex trafficking survivors spoke tearfully of betrayal by Florida lawmakers Friday as bills that would have allowed the hotel industry to be sued for willfully ignoring the problem came to a puzzling halt this week…”
The legislation would hold business owners liable if they “knowingly or in willful blindness” facilitate trafficking crimes.
“With or without state leadership, The Haggard Law Firm is 100% committed to using the tool of the civil justice system to hold business owners accountable for their negligence due to ignorance and those who choose to profit on trafficking by seemingly turning a blind eye to this multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise conducted on their property” says Haggard.
Multiple media outlets reported that the hospitality industry, namely The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and Disney, had been lobbying hard against it behind the scenes,
“As crime victim trial attorneys we know civil court remedies will effect change on a wide scale while helping victims pick up the pieces of their life and start a new”
Orlando Sentinel Story: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/political-pulse/os-disney-asked-to-support-human-trafficking-bill-20180302-story.html
Brandenton herald: http://www.bradenton.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article203049349.html