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Case Name Samuel v. Signal International, LLC IM-TX-0035
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-00323 ( E.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Signal International Guest Worker Cases
Case Summary
This case is part of the series of Signal International cases. It is stayed during defendant's bankruptcy and settlement proceedings.

On May 21, 2013, 17 Indian guestworkers filed a lawsuit in the U.S. ... read more >
This case is part of the series of Signal International cases. It is stayed during defendant's bankruptcy and settlement proceedings.

On May 21, 2013, 17 Indian guestworkers filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas for harm suffered as a result of an allegedly fraudulent and coercive employment recruitment scheme. Plaintiffs filed this suit after District Judge Jay Zainey denied class certification on Jan. 3, 2012, in a related case, David v. Signal International.

Plaintiffs were allegedly brought into the United States to provide labor and services to defendant Signal International at its Orange, Texas site. Signal was based in Pascagoula, Mississippi and was in the business of providing repairs to offshore oil rigs in the Gulf Coast region. The complaint alleged that plaintiffs paid defendant Signal's recruiters as much as $20,000 for travel, visa, and recruitment fees, but, upon arrival in the United States, found that they would not receive the green cards promised to them. Instead, plaintiffs were forced to pay additional fees ($1050 per month) to live in racially segregated labor camps, and were subject to squalid living conditions and threats of both legal and physical harm if they complained about the conditions or decided not to provide labor.

Plaintiffs asserted claims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (18 U.S.C. §1589 (forced labor) and 18 U.S.C. §1590 (trafficking)), the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. §1962), the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. §1981), the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. §1985), the Thirteenth Amendment, Declaratory Judgment Act (28 U.S.C. §2201), Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. §201 et seq) as well as claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract. Plaintiffs were represented by a private law firm.

In Dec. 2013, Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn denied Signal's motion to transfer this case to the Eastern District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs in this case only overlapped with the David case insofar as their FLSA claims in the David case were concerned. Additionally, the plaintiffs in this case sued based on events at Signal's Orange, Texas site, whereas plaintiffs in cases pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana sued based on events at Signal's Pascagoula, Mississippi site. Although the Court declined to transfer this case, on May 30, 2014, Magistrate Judge Hawthorn entered a consent order that discovery from the cases in the Eastern District of Louisiana would be allowed to be used here. Additionally, in Dec. 2014, Magistrate Judge Hawthorn severed and transferred Signal's cross-claims against co-defendants (immigration attorneys, recruiters, and labor brokers) to the Eastern District of Louisiana.

In Oct. 2014, Magistrate Judge Hawthorn granted Signal's motion to compel production of plaintiffs' T- and U-visas and applications for such visas. Although a similar motion had already been denied for the cases pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana, the court found that the materials' relevance outweighed any potential in terrorem effect. The Court warned that it would reconsider if Signal sought discovery that was clearly aimed at harassment.

In July 2015, the court stayed the case after Signal filed for bankruptcy. In re Signal Int’l, Inc, et al., No. 15-11498 (Bankr. D. Del. July 12, 2015). As a part of the bankruptcy filings, the plaintiffs entered into a plan support agreement (PSA) which contemplated a settlement of the claims of this lawsuit against Signal entities through a consensual Chapter 11 plan proposed by Signal. The PSA, with a liquidation trust for distribution of settlement proceeds, became effective on Dec. 14, 2015.

In Dec. 2015, in the related EEOC case, the EEOC announced that the parties had reached a settlement for all cases, approved by the bankruptcy court. Signal would pay $5 million to 476 guestworkers through a claims process. All aggrieved individuals included in the litigation could receive relief in spite of the bankruptcy proceedings. Signal's CEO also issued an apology for its conduct.

In this case, Samuel, the parties are updating the court every 120 days as to the status of the bankruptcy proceedings. As of the parties' most recent Nov. 6, 2017 update to the Court, this settlement process remains ongoing.

The case is stayed pending defendant Signal's bankruptcy proceedings.

Anna Dimon - 05/12/2015
Soojin Cha - 10/31/2016
Ava Morgenstern - 12/02/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-area
Discipline
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Bathing and hygiene
Disparate Treatment
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Housing
Loss or damage to property
Racial segregation
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Immigration/Border
Employer sanctions
Employment
Immigration lawyers
Temporary foreign workers program
U.S. citizenship - acquiring
National Origin/Ethnicity
Indian
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Asian/Pacific Islander
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1985
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
State law
Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. § 1589
Defendant(s) Dewan Consultants
Global Resources, Inc.
Gulf Coast Immigration Law Center
Law Offices of Malvern C. Burnett
Malvern C. Burnett
Michael Pol
Sachin Dewan
Signal International, Inc.
Plaintiff Description 17 Indian guestworkers recruited to work in the U.S.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing IM-LA-0010 : David v. Signal International, LLC (E.D. La.)
IM-LA-0011 : Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Signal International, LLC (E.D. La.)
IM-LA-0012 : Achari v. Signal International, LLC (E.D. La.)
Docket(s)
1:13-cv-323 (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0035-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/06/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-TX-0035-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/21/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Signal Defendants Motion to Transfer [ECF# 56] (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0035-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/02/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation Denying Defendant Signal's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 65] (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 37536)
IM-TX-0035-0006.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/18/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 83]
IM-TX-0035-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge [ECF# 86] (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 80882)
IM-TX-0035-0008.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/30/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Order Regarding Use of Discovery From Related Cases [ECF# 96] (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0035-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/30/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation Denying the Burnett Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 120] (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 126736)
IM-TX-0035-0010.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/29/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order on Signal's Motion to Compel (Doc. No. 122) and Plaintiff's Motion for Interim Protective Order Under Rule (30(d)(3) (Doc. No. 140) [ECF# 149] (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0035-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/15/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Severing and Transferring Signal's Cross-Claims to the Eastern District of Louisiana [ECF# 211] (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0035-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/08/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation on Signal's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 165) [ECF# 217]
IM-TX-0035-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/23/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Staying Case Pursuant to Bankruptcy] [ECF# 235] (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0035-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/14/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Status Report [Letter Brief Updating the Court on Status of the Signal Bankruptcy Proceeding] [ECF# 239]
IM-TX-0035-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/11/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Letter Brief Updating the Court on Status of the Signal Bankruptcy Proceeding as of July 7, 2017 [ECF# 243]
IM-TX-0035-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Crone, Marcia A. (S.D. Tex., E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0035-0011 | IM-TX-0035-9000
Hawthorn, Zack (E.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
IM-TX-0035-0002 | IM-TX-0035-0003 | IM-TX-0035-0004 | IM-TX-0035-0005 | IM-TX-0035-0006 | IM-TX-0035-0008 | IM-TX-0035-0009 | IM-TX-0035-0010 | IM-TX-0035-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Akins, Elizabeth Crabtree (Georgia)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Belagodu, P Akarsh (Georgia)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Boice, William H. (Georgia)
IM-TX-0035-0001 | IM-TX-0035-0007 | IM-TX-0035-9000
Corgan, Brian G (Georgia)
IM-TX-0035-0001 | IM-TX-0035-0007 | IM-TX-0035-9000
Dorris, William E. (Georgia)
IM-TX-0035-0012 | IM-TX-0035-0013 | IM-TX-0035-9000
Heindel, Heather L (Georgia)
IM-TX-0035-0001 | IM-TX-0035-0007 | IM-TX-0035-9000
Ludlam, Taylor Higgins (North Carolina)
IM-TX-0035-0012 | IM-TX-0035-9000
Pangborn, Susan W (Georgia)
IM-TX-0035-0001 | IM-TX-0035-0007 | IM-TX-0035-9000
Ramsey, Shane G (New York)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Reed, Kristopher L (Colorado)
IM-TX-0035-0012 | IM-TX-0035-9000
Williamson, Reginald A (Georgia)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bollman, Patricia Anne F. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Buras, Daniel Edwin Jr. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Cerniglia, Timothy W. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Cornblatt, James L. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Gianna, Dominic Joseph (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Hangartner, Erin Casey (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Hasenkampf, Mitchell P. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Herman, Jonathan Marc (Texas)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Keller, Robert Louis (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Maney, Kevin P. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Masur Davis, Lauren C. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Rabbani, Elham (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Roux, Brian C. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Rydberg, Lance R. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Shapiro, Stephen H. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Ungar, Hal D. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000
Weinberger, Alan Dean (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0035-9000

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