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Case Name Xavier v. Belfor USA Group Inc. IM-LA-0006
Docket / Court 2:06-cv-00491-GTP-DEK ( E.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Immigration
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On February 1, 2006, attorneys with the Immigrant Justice Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana filed a class action lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on behalf of over 1000 workers employed by Belfor USA ... read more >
On February 1, 2006, attorneys with the Immigrant Justice Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana filed a class action lawsuit in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on behalf of over 1000 workers employed by Belfor USA Group, Inc., a major natural disaster reconstruction firm that provided rebuilding services in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant and its subcontractors had exploited Plaintiffs, most of whom were poor migrants who did not speak English, by making them work seven days a week, 12 hours a day, in poor conditions, restoring and cleaning buildings and other property contaminated by mold, flood water and/or smoke. Plaintiffs alleged that the employment practices of Defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §201 et seq. by grossly under paying them and denying them overtime pay.

Shortly after the initial lawsuit was filed, Plaintiffs settled the case with Defendant, who agreed to pay all unpaid overtime wages plus additional penalties (totaling 145% of wages owed), and to change certain business practices to ensure all workers on future Belfor projects were paid according to the FLSA. The District Court (Judge Jay C. Zainey) approved the settlement on September 7, 2006, and certified the case as a collective action under the FLSA, with a class defined as all individuals employed by any subcontractors on Belfor projects in the Gulf Coast arising from storm damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Affected employees were given one year to opt into the class and accept the settlement amount.

After the initial case was settled, a separate suit, Obando et al v. Belfor USA Group, Inc., case # 2:06-cv-07804-GTP-DEK, was filed against Belfor for claims that arose before and after the Hurricane Katrina clean up in other states, other projects not covered by the Xavier v. Belfor USA Group, Inc. Docket 2:06-cv-00491-GTP-DEK, and any individuals not included in the Settlement Class. On March 13, 2007, the Obando suit was consolidated with Xavier v. Belfor USA Group, Inc. and all further pleadings bore the consolidated case #06-cv-00491. The Obando plaintiffs sought certification of a nationwide class action for alleged violations by Belfor and its subcontractors of the FLSA and the wage and hour laws of California, Illinois, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. A third amended complaint was filed on May 10, 2007.

Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint. Plaintiffs responded by filing an opposition memorandum with attached exhibits. Defendants moved to strike the exhibits from plaintiffs' response. The District Court (G. Thomas Porteous, Jr.) granted the motion in part, ruling that it would not consider several exhibits when ruling on the motion to dismiss. Xavier v. Belfor USA Group, Inc., 2007 WL 4224320, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87028 (E.D.La. Nov 26, 2007).

Dan Dalton - 12/10/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
Employer sanctions
Employment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
Defendant(s) Belfor USA Group Inc.
Construction Management Services, USA, LLC
Expro Services, Inc.
Guaranteed Fence & Gate, LLC
Ticos Construction, L.L.C.
Plaintiff Description Individuals who (1) worked for Defendant or psubcontractors performing unskilled manual labor in various projects throughout the U.S. over the last 3 years prior and (2) who were eligible for but did not receive overtime pay.
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 Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2006 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2011
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)
2:06-cv-00491-GTP-DEK (E.D. La.) 01/05/2011
IM-LA-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2:06-cv-07804-GTP-DEK (E.D. La.) 01/05/2011
IM-LA-0006-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint 03/28/2006
IM-LA-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Collective Action Settlement Agreement 08/07/2006
IM-LA-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Order 09/07/2006 (E.D. La.)
IM-LA-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Fair Labor Standards Act Collective Action Amended Complaint 11/01/2006
IM-LA-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order & Reasons 11/26/2007 (2007 WL 4224320) (E.D. La.)
IM-LA-0006-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Judges Knowles, Daniel E. III (E.D. La.) [Magistrate]
IM-LA-0006-0003 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Porteous, G. Thomas Jr. (E.D. La.)
IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Zainey, Jay C. (E.D. La.)
IM-LA-0006-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alvarez, Robert Anthony (Michigan)
IM-LA-0006-0004 | IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Bauer, Mary C. (Virginia)
IM-LA-0006-0001 | IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000
Gerharz, Barry James (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000
Linares, Hector A. (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-0001 | IM-LA-0006-9000
Lurye, William (District of Columbia)
IM-LA-0006-0004 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
McCoy, Gregory J. (Michigan)
IM-LA-0006-0004 | IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Picard, Nancy (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Richard-Spencer, Julie Marie (California)
IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Rosenbaum, Jennifer J. (Alabama)
IM-LA-0006-0001 | IM-LA-0006-0002 | IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000
Sandoval, Jose (California)
IM-LA-0006-0004 | IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Vander Veen, Ronald J. (Michigan)
IM-LA-0006-0004 | IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Alfieri, Christopher J. (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-9000
Ballay, Brian M. (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000
Cordes, Elizabeth Skelley (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-9000
Favret, Clarence F. III (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-9000
Griffith, Steven F. (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Kurtz, Michael J. (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Lagarde, Andre Jude (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-9000
Marshall, Howard Carter (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-9000
Pelleteri, Ellen M. (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-0005 | IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Peyton, Robert D. (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-9000
Tully, Kevin Richard (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-9000
Tusa, Michael Thomas (California)
IM-LA-0006-9000
Whitehead, Jack Kenneth Jr, (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Wolfe, Scott G. Jr. (Louisiana)
IM-LA-0006-9000 | IM-LA-0006-9001
Other Lawyers None on record

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