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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 and/or the Border
Special Collection Signal International Guest Worker Cases
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
This case is part of the series of Signal International cases. It is stayed during defendant's bankruptcy and settlement proceedings.

On Aug. 7, 2013, four Indian guestworkers filed this 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 Aug. 7, 2013, four Indian guestworkers filed this 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 January 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. 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 alleged that plaintiffs paid 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 were represented by a private law firm.

In July 2014, 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. Magistrate Judge Hawthorn found the similarity in issues in the cases was not substantial enough to warrant transfer because the current venue was otherwise proper.

In June 2015, 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, finding that there was significant overlap between Signal's crossclaims in this case and in David.

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 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, Meganathan, the Court asked the parties for updates every 120 days as to the status of the bankruptcy proceedings. However, the latest is from Nov. 8, 2016 (simply stating that the proceedings remain ongoing). The bankruptcy case closed on February 5, 2019, however the case remains open and no further updates have been filed.

Anna Dimon - 05/14/2015
Soojin Cha - 11/20/2016
Ava Morgenstern - 12/02/2017
Caitlin Kierum - 11/22/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Immigration status
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
Bathing and hygiene
Disparate Treatment
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Loss or damage to property
Racial segregation
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Employer sanctions
Immigration lawyers
Temporary foreign workers program
U.S. citizenship - acquiring
National Origin/Ethnicity
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
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
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq.
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 4 Indian guestworkers fraudulently recruited to work in the U.S.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 08/07/2013
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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Court Docket(s)
E.D. Tex.
IM-TX-0037-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Tex.
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-TX-0037-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Report and Recommendations of United States Magistrate Judge [ECF# 38] (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 126737)
IM-TX-0037-0002.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Order Denying Defendants Motion to Transfer [ECF# 44]
IM-TX-0037-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Report and Recommendation Denying Defendant Signal's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 16) [ECF# 47] (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 126779)
IM-TX-0037-0004.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Report and Recommendation Denying the Burnett Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 11) [ECF# 49] (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 126780)
IM-TX-0037-0005.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Order Severing and Transferring Signal's Cross-Claims to the Eastern District of Louisiana [ECF# 102]
IM-TX-0037-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Memorandum and Order on the Parties' Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony [ECF# 103] (2015 WL 11109846)
IM-TX-0037-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Del.
Plan Support Agreement [ECF# 279-1]
IM-TX-0037-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Status Report [ECF# 109]
IM-TX-0037-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Crone, Marcia A. (S.D. Tex., E.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
Hawthorn, Zack (E.D. Tex.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0002 | IM-TX-0037-0003 | IM-TX-0037-0004 | IM-TX-0037-0005 | IM-TX-0037-0007 | IM-TX-0037-0008 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Birnbaum, Timothy H. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0001 | IM-TX-0037-0006 | IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Dodson, John Blake (New York) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0001 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Hynes, Michael D. (New York) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Sohn, Joshua Samuel (New York) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0001 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Solberg, Brett David (Texas) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Bollman, Patricia Anne F. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Cerniglia, Timothy W. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Cornblatt, James L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Davis, Lauren Masur (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Hangartner, Erin Casey (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Hasenkampf, Mitchell P. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Herman, Jonathan Marc (Texas) show/hide docs
Keller, Robert Louis (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Maney, Kevin P. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Masur Davis, Lauren C. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Rabbani, Elham (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Roux, Brian C. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Rydberg, Lance R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Sandler, Bradford J. (Delaware) show/hide docs
Ungar, Hal D. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Weinberger, Alan Dean (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0037-0009 | IM-TX-0037-9000
Other Lawyers Adams, Daniel D. (New York) show/hide docs
Arvelo, Jose E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Coco, Nathan F. (Texas) show/hide docs
Colby, Eben P. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Dorris, William E. (Georgia) show/hide docs
Ford, Kara D. (Georgia) show/hide docs
Kinsella, Steven R. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
Mintz, Benjamin (New York) show/hide docs
Raptis, Stephen T. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Sabourian, Kayvon (Texas) show/hide docs
Werner, Daniel (Georgia) show/hide docs

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