TAMPA, Fla. — The family of Carla Stefaniak is suing Airbnb and the resort where she stayed, Villa Le Mas, after her body was found last month in Costa Rica.
A security guard who worked at the resort has been arrested for her murder. Her body was discovered half-naked wrapped in plastic bags.
"He wasn't legally authorized to work. Yet, nevertheless, he was given his own apartment there on the grounds, an apartment that was coincidentally directly next to Carla's rented villa," said attorney Jeffrey "Jack" Gordon, who filed the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges both companies could have done more to protect its guests.
The lawsuit states Airbnb and Villa Le Mas (also known as Villa Buena Vista) failed to perform any kind of background check on the security guard.
According to court records, Airbnb posted complimentary and positive reviews of the resort property and its hosts. But there are multiple reports of guests who had bad experiences since 2013.
"A large organization with significant resources that's making billions of dollars can't make believe it's an ostrich and put its head in the sand and say I don't see any bad things," Gordon said.
The lawsuit states the U.S. Department of State has, for a number of years prior to 2018, issued opinions through its Bureau of Consular Affairs that in Costa Rica, "Violent crime, such as armed robbery and assault, is common."
"It's a joint responsibility. Certainly, we have responsibility to take care of ourselves. We can't trust blindly in commercial enterprises," added Gordon.
WFTS reached out to Villa Le Mas, but has not received a comment regarding the lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Airbnb sent the following statement:
Our hearts are broken for Carla’s family, friends, and loved ones. We reached out to provide support to them during this unimaginably difficult time. We have also been in contact with Costa Rican and American law enforcement authorities, and we are standing by to support their investigation, as justice must be served quickly. The Villa Le Mas has been removed from the platform.