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Case Name Meganathan v. Signal International, LLC IM-TX-0037
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-00497 ( E.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Immigration
Special Collection Signal International Guest Worker Cases
Case Summary
On August 7, 2013, 4 Indian guestworkers filed a lawsuit in the United States 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 ... read more >
On August 7, 2013, 4 Indian guestworkers filed a lawsuit in the United States 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 January 3, 2012 in a related case, IM-LA-0010.

Plaintiffs were allegedly brought into the United States to provide labor and services to Defendant Signal International. Signal is based in Pascagoula, Mississippi and is in the business of providing repairs to offshore oil rigs in the Gulf Coast region. Three plaintiffs worked at Signal's site in Orange, Texas and one plaintiff worked in Pascagoula. The complaint alleges 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 out they would not receive the green cards promised to them. Instead, Plaintiffs were forced to pay additional fees to live in racially segregated labor camps ($1050 per month), 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 Reauthorization Act (18 U.S.C. §1584 et seq, the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. §1962, the Declaratory Judgment Act (28 U.S.C. §2201), as well as claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract. Plaintiffs are represented a private law firm.

In July 2014, United States Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn denied Signal's motion to transfer this case to the Eastern District of Louisiana. The court reasoned that the plaintiffs in this case only overlap with the David case, IM-LA-0010, insofar as their FLSA claims in the David case are concerned. Judge Hawthorn found the similarity in issues in the cases is not substantial enough to warrant transfer because the current venue is otherwise proper.

In June 2015, the magistrate judge severed and transferred Signal's cross-claims against Malvern Burnett, the Law Office of Malvern Burnett, and Gulf Coast Immigration Law Center to the Eastern District of Louisiana, finding that there was significant overlap between Signal's crossclaims in this case and in David v. Signal International, LLC filed in Eastern District of Louisiana.

Also in June 2015, the magistrate judge issued an order regarding the proper use of expert testimony. He excluded an expert retained by Signal to opine on Signal's safety practices, finding the expert was unqualified to give such opinion because he had not adequately compared Signal's practices to others in the industry. Magistrate Judge Hawthorn also excluded opinions that attempted to interfere with the jury's role, such as the one that said Signal did not force or coerce the workers into staying in the man camp. He narrowed the opinions of experts on both sides regarding human trafficking, noting they could only speak generally on the matter and not on whether there was or was not human trafficking in this case.

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 became effective on December 14, 2015. As of November 2016, the stay remains effective in light of Signal's ongoing bankruptcy case.

Anna Dimon - 05/14/2015
Soojin Cha - 11/20/2016


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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
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 Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq.
State law
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 4 Indian guestworkers fraudulently recruited to work in the U.S.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
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
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
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.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Insurer Must Pay $100.5 Million in Redlining Case
The New York Times
Written: Oct. 27, 1998
By: Joseph B. Treaster
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Nationwide Settles Virginia Redlining Suit
Property Casualty 360
Written: May. 06, 2000
By: Amanda Levin
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  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)
1:13-cv-00497-MAC-ZJH (E.D. Tex.) 11/16/2016
IM-TX-0037-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 08/07/2013
IM-TX-0037-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendations of United States Magistrate Judge 07/03/2014 (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 126737)
IM-TX-0037-0002.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants Motion to Transfer 07/16/2014 (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0037-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation Denying Defendant Signal's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 16) 07/29/2014 (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 126779)
IM-TX-0037-0004.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation Denying the Burnett Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 11) 07/31/2014 (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 126780)
IM-TX-0037-0005.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Severing and Transferring Signal's Cross-Claims to the Eastern District of Louisiana 06/17/2015 (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0037-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order on the Parties' Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony 06/26/2015 (2015 WL 11109846) (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0037-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plan Support Agreement 09/01/2015
IM-TX-0037-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Status Report 11/08/2016
IM-TX-0037-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Crone, Marcia A. (E.D. Tex., S.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
IM-TX-0037-9000
Hawthorn, Zack (E.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
IM-TX-0037-0002 | IM-TX-0037-0003 | IM-TX-0037-0004 | IM-TX-0037-0005 | IM-TX-0037-0007 | IM-TX-0037-0008
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Birnbaum, Timothy H. (New York)
IM-TX-0037-0001 | IM-TX-0037-0006 | IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Dodson, John Blake (New York)
IM-TX-0037-0001 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Hynes, Michael D. (New York)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Sohn, Joshua Samuel (New York)
IM-TX-0037-0001 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Solberg, Brett David (Texas)
IM-TX-0037-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bollman, Patricia Anne F. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Cerniglia, Timothy W. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Cornblatt, James L. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Davis, Lauren Masur (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Hangartner, Erin Casey (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Hasenkampf, Mitchell P. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Herman, Jonathan Marc (Texas)
IM-TX-0037-9000
Keller, Robert Louis (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Maney, Kevin P. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-9000
Masur Davis, Lauren C. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-9000
Rabbani, Elham (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Roux, Brian C. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Rydberg, Lance R. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Sandler, Bradford J. (Delaware)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Ungar, Hal D. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-9000
Weinberger, Alan Dean (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Other Lawyers Adams, Daniel D. (New York)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Arvelo, Jose E. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Coco, Nathan F. (Texas)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Colby, Eben P. (Massachusetts)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Dorris, William E. (Georgia)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Ford, Kara D. (Georgia)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Kinsella, Steven R. (Minnesota)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Mintz, Benjamin (New York)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Raptis, Stephen T. (District of Columbia)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Sabourian, Kayvon (Texas)
IM-TX-0037-0006
Werner, Daniel (Georgia)
IM-TX-0037-0006

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