Immigration Law

Federal Jury Awards $14 Million to Indian Guest Workers Victimized in Labor Trafficking Scheme by Gulf Coast Shipyard, Agents

"A federal jury in an SPLC case today awarded $14 million in compensatory and punitive damages to five Indian guest workers who were defrauded and exploited in a labor trafficking scheme engineered by a Gulf Coast marine services company, an immigration lawyer and an Indian labor recruiter who lured hundreds of workers to a Mississippi shipyard with false promises of permanent U.S. residency.

After a four-week trial before U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, the jury ruled that Signal International, New Orleans lawyer Malvern C. Burnett and India-based recruiter Sachin Dewan engaged in labor trafficking, fraud, racketeering and discrimination. The jury also found that one of the five plaintiffs was a victim of false imprisonment and retaliation.

“The defendants exploited our clients, put their own profits over the lives of these honorable workers, and tried to deny them their day in court,” said lead attorney Alan Howard, Southern Poverty Law Center board chairman and a partner in Crowell & Moring’s New York office. “But they persevered and after seven long years have received the justice they so well deserve.”

The trial was the first in a series of cases spearheaded by the SPLC that together comprise one of the largest labor trafficking cases in U.S. history." - ACLU, Feb. 18, 2015.