On June 5, 2005, attorneys with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Virginia Justice Center for Farm and Immigrant Workers filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of a group of over 1500 migrant workers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ...
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On June 5, 2005, attorneys with the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Virginia Justice Center for Farm and Immigrant Workers filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of a group of over 1500 migrant workers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against their former employer, Eller and Sons Trees, Inc. Plaintiffs, who were from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, were admitted to the U.S. under the H-2B temporary farm worker program. They alleged that they planted trees and performed other forestry related work for the defendant, who took advantage of them by grossly underpaying them in violation of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The District Court (Judge Clarence Cooper) granted class certification by order dated September 28, 2006. Leon-Granados v. Eller and Sons Trees, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73781 (N.D.Ga. Sept. 28, 2006). The same day, Judge Cooper issued a discovery order in which he held that the applicable statute of limitations for the AWPA claims was six years. Leon-Granados v. Eller and Sons Trees, Inc., 452 F.Supp.2d 1282 (N.D.Ga. 2006) Defendants appealed the certification order. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the order granting class certification. De Leon-Granados v. Eller and Sons Trees, Inc. 2007 WL 2456206 (11th Cir. Aug. 31, 2007).
While the case was on appeal, discovery continued, as the District Court refused defendants' request to stay the case proceedings. On November 15, 2007, plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment on one of their multiple claims under the FLSA-the claim for reimbursement of passport, visa and travel expenses incurred in coming to work for Defendants. On October 7, 2008, the court granted Plaintiffs' partial summary judgment motion. De Leon-Granados v. Eller & Sons Trees, Inc., 581 F. Supp. 2d 1295, 1313 (N.D. Ga. 2008). The court found that Eller and Sons failed to reimburse their guest workers for travel and visa expenses incurred when they came to the United States to work for the company, failed to provide them all the hours of work they were promised in their H-2B work contracts, and failed to maintain accurate records of the hours they worked. Plaintiffs were awarded $57,001.28 in damages (after court granted plaintiffs' motion to correct summary judgment order).
On October 29, 2012, the court granted plaintiffs' final judgment with respect to the claims brought by the plaintiffs and other class members pursuant to the AWPA. The court ordered damages in excess of $11 million. Dan Dalton - 11/16/2007
Jennifer Bronson - 12/13/2013