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Family of Florida woman murdered in Costa Rica suing Airbnb, Costa Rican resort where she stayed

Carla Stefaniak's family files lawsuit in Hillsborough County
Posted: 4:46 PM, Dec 21, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-21 23:55:28Z
Carla Stefaniak.jpg

TAMPA, Fla. — The family of Carla Stefaniak is suing Airbnb and the resort, Villa Le Mas, where she stayed 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 (aka Villa Buena Vista) failed to perform any kind of background check on the security guard.

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According to court records, Airbnb posted complimentary and positive reviews of the resort property and its hosts, there are and were multiple reports since 2013 of guests who encountered bad experiences.

"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," said Gordon.

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.

We reached out to Villa Le Mas, but have not received a comment regarding the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Airbnb sent us 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."