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Family of Carla Stefaniak, Florida woman killed in Costa Rica, sues Airbnb, property owner

Posted at 12:26 PM, Dec 22, 2018

(CNN) -- The family of Carla Stefaniak, a Florida woman killed in a resort in Costa Rica last month, has filed a lawsuit in US court against Airbnb and the apartment complex where she stayed.

The complaint alleges Airbnb and Villa le Mas contributed her death by employing and giving access to all units in the resort to security guard Bismarck Espinosa Martinez, a Nicaraguan immigrant who has been arrested in Stefaniak's death.

The suit also alleges Airbnb and Villa le Mas were negligent because they failed to perform a background check on Martinez, who, the suit says, lacked documentation and legal authorization for employment.

CNN has reached out to Airbnb and Villa le Mas for comment but has not yet heard back.

After the suspect was arrested, Walter Espinoza, a spokesman with the nation's Judicial Investigation Department, said Espinosa Martinez had an "irregular migration condition."

"This type of person, when they come to our country and stay in an irregular condition, makes it more difficult for us to track them and makes it more difficult for us to know where they've been and their movements because they are not traceable," he said at a news conference.

Stefaniak, who lived in near Tampa, Florida, had gone to Costa Rica for her 36th birthday, which was on November 28, the day authorities believe she was killed.

Days after she disappeared, authorities found a partially decomposed body about 300 yards from the apartment complex where Stefaniak was staying in a province just outside the country's capital of San Jose, said Espinoza.

An autopsy showed multiple stab wounds to the "neck and upper extremities," as well as blunt force trauma to the head, he said.

Authorities also had found stains inside the apartment where Stefaniak was staying, "which are compatible with blood and which will be submitted to further investigation and comparison," he said

Espinosa Martinez, 32, had been staying in the apartment next to Stefaniak's rental, said Espinoza, the government spokesman.

The lawsuit was filed in the 13th Judicial Circuit of Florida. Stefaniak's two brothers are the plaintiffs. They are seeking an unspecified amount in excess of $15,000.