Mother of slain human trafficking victim files lawsuit

Body of Natalie Fisher found in ditch less than 10 miles from motel

Natalie Fisher
Natalie Fisher

HOUSTON – A law firm says the mother of a woman killed in September has filed a lawsuit on behalf of her daughter's children.

Natalie Fisher, 21, was trafficked for two years largely through the Plainfield Inn off Bissonnet Street, the law firm said. Her body was found in a ditch less than 10 miles from the motel.

The law firm said Janice Charleze's lawsuit is the first civil action of its kind that benefits victims utilizing the Texas 2009 human trafficking statute.

The law allows for compensation for victims against those who profit from human trafficking, the law firm said.

"We learned too late about this to save my daughter," Charleze said. "Had I known we could have held these hotel owners accountable for turning a blind eye to Natalie's suffering, we could have gotten her away from her traffickers. She tried to leave so many times, but by then she was so emotionally and physically abused she couldn't see that there was any life left for her outside of what she was doing."

"In 2009, the Texas Legislature made businesses that intentionally and knowingly benefit from the trafficking of another person civilly liable," said Ross Bussard, an attorney with the Hotze Runkle law firm. "Economic bondage tying the victim to the trafficker is just one of the ways perpetrators keep people in servitude. Texas law provides these victims a chance at a life free of sexual slavery."

The law firm said the inn is well known to the Houston Police Department as the subject of allegedly more than 400 calls since 2014 involving violent assaults, prostitution arrests, drug offenses, weapons offenses, armed robberies and theft, the lawsuit states.