Jury Awards $85K to Mother in Motel Porn Suit

Tod Hunter
NORWALK, Calif. — Edwina McCombs, who sued an Artesia motel after her two young daughters watched an adult film on the motel's TV, was awarded $85,000 by a jury on Oct. 12.

The incident occurred in August 2006, when McCombs was visiting Southern California from Nashville with her daughters, who were 8 and 9 at the time, and stayed at Value Lodge in Artesia, Calif.

McCombs went to take a bath while the girls were watching a children's TV show. Soon after, according to McCombs' attorney Eliot F. Krieger, the girls somehow changed the channel to an adult film.

A hotel expert testified during the trial that he had never heard of a family-style hotel or motel that did not require adult verification to access pornographic films, Krieger said.

"As we all know, adult entertainment is created by adults utilizing adult entertainers, to be viewed by adults," Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke told XBIZ. "In hotel rooms, systems are put into place to make it more difficult for children to access adult materials. In this case, those systems failed and damages were settled appropriately in civil court. The adult industry, vendors and parents must continue to work together to make sure that materials children view are age-appropriate."

Charles Su, the motel's owner, claimed that guests were encouraged to tell the front desk to block access to the adult channel, said Max C. Chiang, Su's attorney.

"We offered to settle for $50,000 before the case, so it's just $30,000 more. We're OK," Chiang told reporters.

The jury awarded McCombs $65,000 in economic damages, which include medical and legal bills, and $20,000 for emotional distress.

"The jury did the right thing and are sending a message to other hotels," Krieger said.