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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Rosalino Perez-Benites v. Candy Brand LLC IM-AR-0001
Docket / Court 1:07-cv-01048-HFB ( W.D. Ark. )
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Immigration
Special Collection Private Employment Class Actions
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On June 7, 2007, attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a class action lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas on behalf of about 2,700 Mexican migrant workers who entered the United States with H-2A visas and harvested and packed tomatoes and ... read more >
On June 7, 2007, attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a class action lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas on behalf of about 2,700 Mexican migrant workers who entered the United States with H-2A visas and harvested and packed tomatoes and performed other agricultural work in Bradley County, Ark., from 2002 to 2007. Plaintiffs alleged that the employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. by failing to pay the prevailing wage and overtime wages, and not reimbursing workers for travel, visa and hiring fees. Plaintiffs sought money damages, injunctive relief and class certification.

Defendants included former employers Candy Brand, LLC, and Arkansas Tomato Shippers, LLC, and several individual supervisors. Defendants initially responded by filing a motion for more definite statement. The trial court denied that motion. Perez-Bemotes v. Candy Brand, LLC, 2007 WL 4189499 (W.D.Ark. Nov 21, 2007).

On December 9, 2007, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint to include a statement about the grounds of jurisdiction over a class action claim. On October 13, 2008, the Court (Judge Harry F. Barnes) granted plaintiffs' conditional motion to certify a class and motion requesting information of potential class members from defendants. 2008 WL 4809105. After discovery, on March 23, 2010, the Court granted class certification for the plaintiffs, designating two classes. The first class included "all nonsupervisory workers employed by Defendants any time between 2003 and the date of judgment in this matter who were employed pursuant to H-2A temporary work visas;" and the second included "all nonsupervisory workers employed in the Defendants' packing shed operations at any time between 2003 and the date of the judgment in this matter--irrespective of visa status--who did not receive overtime pay during workweeks when they worked more than forty (40) hours." 267 F.R.D. 242. The defendants tried to appeal this decision, though permission for interlocutory appeal was denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Following class certification, the Court approved a stipulated dismissal as to defendant Dale McGinnis, though none of the other business defendants were dismissed.

On August 30, 2010, the Court dismissed individual and joint motions for summary judgment by the defendants, allowing plaintiffs more time for discovery.

The Court found that defendants were legally deemed employers for the H-2A guestworkers, and did not qualify for an exemption from paying overtime. The Court also held that defendants, in accordance with the FLSA, were required to reimburse plaintiffs for travel expenses if they brought plaintiffs' income below minimum wage, during the first work week. According to the employment contract, defendants were also required to reimburse plaintiffs for daily travel expenses and to pay plaintiffs overtime. Accordingly, on May 20, 2011, the Court denied defendants' numerous motions for summary judgment, and granted plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment related to violations of the FLSA and H-2A employment contracts, as well as their motion for summary judgment on the issue of employer status and liability of defendants. 2011 WL 1978414. The Court denied defendants' motion for reconsideration of the matter the next month. Following the grant of summary judgment for the plaintiffs, the Court instructed the parties to submit briefs regarding whether defendants mitigated damages by providing housing, whether defendants were liable for other expenses not presented in the motions for summary judgment, and whether plaintiffs were entitled to attorney fees pursuant to the FLSA.

A jury trial was set for January 23, 2012. Before this date, however, the parties reached a settlement agreement and the Court granted a motion for preliminary approval of a proposed class action settlement. The settlement agreement required the defendants to pay plaintiffs $1,212,500 in damages and attorney fees; it also provided terms for how to handle breach of payment and administration of the settlement agreement. Later that year, defendants breached the settlement agreement, and on September 4, 2013, the Court entered judgment against the defendants, requiring payment in the amount of $790,625 with an interest rate of 5%, with interest building from January 1, 2012 until paid. Additional attorney fees were to be calculated at the time of collection.

Dan Dalton - 12/07/2007
Maurice Youkanna - 07/29/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
Employment
Temporary foreign workers program
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
Defendant(s) Arkansas Tomato Shippers, LLC
Candy Brand LLC
Plaintiff Description Class of nonsupervisory workers employed by Candy Brand LLC who are either employed based on H-2A work visas, or otherwise work in the packing shed operations without overtime pay after working over 40 hours, since 2003 until the time of judgment in this litigation.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action
Washington University Journal of Law and Policy
By: Jill E. Family (Widener University School of Law)
Citation: 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 71 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:07-cv-01048-HFB (W.D. Ark.) 09/04/2013
IM-AR-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint - Class Action 06/07/2007
IM-AR-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Order 11/21/2007 (2007 WL 4189499) (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
First Amended Complaint - Class Action 11/30/2007
IM-AR-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Certifying Collective Action] 10/31/2008 (2008 WL 4809105) (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [Certifying Class] 03/23/2010 (267 F.R.D. 242) (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Dismissing All Claims Against Dale McGinnis] 03/31/2010 (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Mandate [Denying Permission to File Interlocutory Appeal] 05/20/2010
IM-AR-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Denying Motions for Summary Judgment] 08/30/2010 (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Granting Plaintiffs' Motions for Summary Judgment] 05/20/2011 (2011 WL 978414) (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Concerning Briefs] 06/23/2011 (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Proposed Class Action Settlement Agreement and Notice to Class Members 12/23/2011
IM-AR-0001-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Preliminary Approval for Class Action Settlement Agreement] 12/29/2011 (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Final Approval of Class Action Settlement and Entry of Final Judgment 04/09/2012 (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment 09/04/2013 (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Barnes, Harry F. (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0002 | IM-AR-0001-0004 | IM-AR-0001-0005 | IM-AR-0001-0006 | IM-AR-0001-0008
Dawson, Robert Toombs (W.D. Ark.)
IM-AR-0001-0009 | IM-AR-0001-0010 | IM-AR-0001-0012 | IM-AR-0001-0013 | IM-AR-0001-0014 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Benjamin-Gomez, Arlen S (Alabama)
IM-AR-0001-0001 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Bowen, Martin W. (Arkansas)
IM-AR-0001-0001 | IM-AR-0001-0002 | IM-AR-0001-0003 | IM-AR-0001-9000 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Rosenbaum, Jennifer J. (Alabama)
IM-AR-0001-0001 | IM-AR-0001-0002 | IM-AR-0001-0003 | IM-AR-0001-9000 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Tuddenham, Edward J. (New York)
IM-AR-0001-0001 | IM-AR-0001-0002 | IM-AR-0001-0003 | IM-AR-0001-9000 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Werner, Daniel (New York)
IM-AR-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Burnett, John L. (Arkansas)
IM-AR-0001-9000
Clark, Andrew L. Sr. (Arkansas)
IM-AR-0001-9000
Davidson, Jerry Paul (Arkansas)
IM-AR-0001-0011 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Davidson, Charles D. (Arkansas)
IM-AR-0001-9000
Dowden, James F. (Arkansas)
IM-AR-0001-9000
Hashem, Hani W. (Arkansas)
IM-AR-0001-0002 | IM-AR-0001-0011 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Knoepp, James Melvin (Georgia)
IM-AR-0001-0011 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Lapointe, Michelle R. (Georgia)
IM-AR-0001-9000
Moore, Michael S. (Arkansas)
IM-AR-0001-0002 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Thomas, F. Mattison (Alaska)
IM-AR-0001-0011
Young, H. Wayne Jr. (Arkansas)
IM-AR-0001-0002 | IM-AR-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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