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Ricchio v. Bijal, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 10, 2019

LISA RICCHIO, Plaintiff,
v.
BIJAL, INC. d/b/a SHANGRI-LA MOTEL; ASHVINKUMAR PATEL; SIMA PATEL; and CLARK McLEAN, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          F. Dennis Saylor, United States District Judge.

         This is an action arising under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (“TVPA”) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (“TVPRA”). Plaintiff Lisa Ricchio alleges that she was taken hostage in June 2011 at the Shangri-La Motel in Seekonk, Massachusetts, by defendant Clark McLean, who raped and abused her for a period of several days. Defendant Bijal, Inc. owns the motel. Defendants Ashvinkumar and Sima Patel worked and lived at the motel at the time of Ricchio's alleged captivity. The complaint alleges, in substance, that defendants knowingly benefitted from the sex trafficking activities of McLean.

         Bijal, Inc. and the Patels have filed a motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the motion will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         Under Local Rule 56.1, a party moving for summary judgment is required to “include a concise statement of the material facts of the record as to which [they] contend[] there is no genuine issue to be tried, ” “with page references to affidavits, depositions, and other documentation.” The statement of material facts submitted by defendants, who are the moving parties, does not satisfy that standard. Rather than identifying specific material facts with specific citations to the record, defendants instead provide blanket references to what they contend are “material portions” of various depositions. Although the motion could be denied simply for failure to comply with the rule, the Court has nonetheless attempted to determine, based on its own examination of the record, whether there is a genuine dispute of material fact.

         1. The Shangri-La Motel

         The Shangri-La Motel in Seekonk, Massachusetts, is owned by Bijal, Inc. (Ila Patel Dep. at 16). Bijal is owned by Ila Patel. (Id. at 15-16). Ila Patel is married to Shailesh (Sunny) Patel. (Id. at 16). Ashvinkumar (Ashvin) Patel is Sunny Patel's first cousin. (Sunny Patel Dep. at 18). Ashvin Patel is married to Sima Patel. (Id.).

         Ila Patel bought the Shangri-La Motel with her then-husband in 1984. (Ila Patel Dep. at 17). In 1988, Ila and her husband established Bijal for the purpose of running the Shangri-La Motel. (Id.). Ila's husband passed away in 1992. (Id. at 36).

         Sunny Patel arrived in the United States in 1995. (Sunny Patel Dep. at 10). In 1996, he married Ila. (Id.). After marrying Ila, Sunny started working with her at the motel. (Id. at 11). The two of them also began living together at the motel and remained living there until 2003. (Id. at 14).

         In 2003, Ila and Sunny moved from the motel to a house Sunny had purchased, and Ashvin Patel and his wife Sima began working and living at the motel. (Ashvin Patel Dep. at 11, 29).[1] Ila remained the motel's manager, and Ashvin and Sima performed cleaning and maintenance work. (Id. at 18, 20). At times, Ashvin and Sima would “fill in” for Ila and help check-in customers. (Id.). In return for their work, Asvhin and Sima were paid a yearly salary by Bijal and provided with free lodging at the motel. (Id. at 26-28; Sima Patel Dep. at 29-31).

         2. The Events of June 2011

         In 2010, Lisa Ricchio was living in Maine. She met a man named Clark McLean through one of McLean's “drug customer[s]” during the winter of 2010. (McLean Dep. at 24, 42). McLean did not tell Ricchio his real name, and instead told her that his name was “A, ” “Antoin Hobson, ” or “Adrian Hobbs.” (Ricchio Test'y at 14; McLean Dep. at 25).

         After meeting, McLean would call or text Ricchio from “time to time.” (McLean Dep. at 89). McLean, who lived in Taunton, Massachusetts, would travel frequently to Maine for his “drug dealing” business. (Id. at 89, 98). He would see Ricchio while he was in Maine. (Id. at 89). The two eventually developed a relationship. (Ricchio Test'y at 13; McLean Dep. at 90).

         In May 2011, Ricchio attended what she calls a “healthy living program” in Utah to “manage [her] chronic and daily pain, and to get off . . . all my narcotics . . . and all my medications.” (Ricchio Test'y at 15). Ricchio and McLean continued to text and call each other while she was in Utah. (Id. at 19). Around the end of May, she “graduated” from the program and returned to Maine. (Id. at 20, 24).

         On June 1, 2011, McLean called Ricchio and asked her to visit him in Massachusetts. (Ricchio Test'y at 22-23; McLean Dep. at 93). Ricchio contends that he was “very upset” and “crying, ” and that he told her that he had cancer. (Ricchio Test'y at 23). McLean denies doing so. (McLean Dep. at 94).

         Ricchio drove to Massachusetts to see McLean. (Ricchio Test'y at 25-26). According to McLean, she met him on Pine Street in Taunton. (McLean Dep. at 167).

         According to Ricchio, McLean told her to enter the driver seat of his car and begin driving. (Ricchio Test'y at 29).[2] McLean gave her directions, and they ...


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