In a national story, our law firm is helping a Chicago woman sue one of the largest hotel chains in the world for the damage to her privacy, her peace of mind, and her dignity.
In July 2015, our client was staying at the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Albany, a hotel chain owned by Hilton. She was there to take the New York bar exam. In September 2018, our client was sent an email by someone believed to be a current employee of the Albany hotel.
In the email was a link to a video on an adult website with our client's full name in the title. Even worse, the video was footage of her showering at the Hampton Inn & Suites. The email continued with the sender demanding new, private footage of our client. The sender's threat said, "You have until midnight to send me something good. Or I will post videos, your name, info everywhere. Then I send to people you know. You can enjoy being famous."
The employee also said "I'm a perv. I don't hurt anyone. I like to watch. No need to worry about me. I just like to watch and then I move on to the next. Promise me my own show. That's the hottest. No need to show your face. Then I disappear and remove the videos forever before they get copied on every website."
When she didn't respond, the employee created an email address in our client's name and sent the video to our client's friends and colleagues, and the video was also reposted to at least a dozen porn sites. The employee apparently had access to our client's name, school, and employer. The message to her contacts list claimed the link was to an art project our client was 'modeling' for. "All I could think was, 'My life is over,'" our client said in a Good Morning America report on the story. "It was just absolutely traumatizing because these were people I went to law school with, they're friends, they're coworkers." Our client now fears for her life.
Learn more by watching the Good Morning America segment below:
She's Not Alone
After sending the initial mass email, the sender demanded $14,000 from our client in exchange for taking down the video. Instead, she decided to investigate and take the hotel to court for what their employee was doing. When she called our firm, our investigation discovered that she is not the only victim of this extortion scheme. She is now suing for negligence and emotional distress.
Attorney Roland Christensen, who's leading the case, told Good Morning America, "We've investigated extensively as far as we can go without Hilton's help at this point, and that investigation has revealed that there is at least another victim." A hotel spokesperson responded to the allegations in the lawsuit, saying that they " will continue to work with authorities to discover the perpetrator and see that s/he is held accountable." This specific Hampton Inn had reportedly done a sweep of the hotel looking for recording devices, but it wouldn't necessarily yield every device left in every room.
"This lawsuit is a wake up call," Roland said to reporters. "Hoteliers need to recognize the threat of digital voyeurism, and they need to institute policies to protect their guests from such a heinous violation." Hilton is responsible for what happens at their hotels. Hampton Inn and its parent company Hilton need to be held accountable. It's time for our client to get what she needs to recover her sense of well-being and dignity from this nightmare.
Read other coverage of this story at the following sources:
- Arnold & Itkin News,
- Personal Injury,
- Premises Liability