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Case Name Kambala v. Signal International, LLC IM-TX-0038
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-00498 ( 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 Aug. 7, 2013, 16 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, 16 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 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. Signal was based in Pascagoula, Mississippi and was in the business of providing repairs to offshore oil rigs in the Gulf Coast region. One plaintiff worked in Pascagoula; the remaining plaintiffs worked at Signal's Orange, Texas site. The complaint alleged that plaintiffs paid defendant Signal's recruiters as much as $25,000 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 ($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.

The amended complaint, filed on behalf of 21 individuals, 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 Kux Klan Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. §1985), the Thirteenth Amendment, as well as claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract. Plaintiffs were represented by the Equal Justice Center and the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic.

In July 2014, U.S. 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 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.

Trial was set for Dec. 2015. However, 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, Kambala, the parties are updating the court every 120 days as to the status of the bankruptcy proceedings. The parties' most recently filed report (Nov. 6, 2017) noted that 20 of the 21 plaintiffs had reached a settlement with the Burnett (immigration attorney) defendants, and the remaining one plaintiff could not be located. Plaintiffs requested the stay remain in effect as to the Signal defendants and Dewan (recruiter) defendants.

The stay remains effective in light of Signal's ongoing bankruptcy case.

Anna Dimon - 05/14/2015
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
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) Billy R. Wilks
Dewan Consultants
Global Resources, Inc.
Gulf Coast Immigration Law Center
Indo-Amerisoft, L.L.C.
J & M Marine & Industrial LLC
J&M Associates of Mississippi, Inc.
Kurella Rao
Law Offices of Malvern C. Burnett
Malvern C. Burnett
Michael Pol
Sachin Dewan
Signal International, Inc.
Plaintiff Description 21 Indian guestworkers fraudulently 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 Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief Settlement
None yet
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
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-00498-RC-ZJH (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0038-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-TX-0038-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/07/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Transfer [ECF# 56] (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0038-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/16/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 117]
IM-TX-0038-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Status Report [ECF# 131]
IM-TX-0038-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Status Report [ECF# 132]
IM-TX-0038-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/06/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Clark, Ron (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Hawthorn, Zack (E.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
IM-TX-0038-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Beardall, William H. Jr. (Texas)
IM-TX-0038-0001
Sabourian, Kayvon (Texas)
IM-TX-0038-0001 | IM-TX-0038-0002 | IM-TX-0038-0005 | IM-TX-0038-9000
Willett, Christopher Joseph (Texas)
IM-TX-0038-0001 | IM-TX-0038-0002 | IM-TX-0038-0004 | IM-TX-0038-0005 | IM-TX-0038-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bollman, Patricia Anne F. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Cerniglia, Timothy W. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-0005
Cornblatt, James L. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Hangartner, Erin Casey (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Hasenkampf, Mitchell P. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Herman, Jonathan Marc (Texas)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Keller, Robert Louis (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Maney, Kevin P. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Masur Davis, Lauren C. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Rabbani, Elham (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Roux, Brian C. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Rydberg, Lance R. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Shapiro, Stephen H. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-0005 | IM-TX-0038-9000
Ungar, Hal D. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000
Weinberger, Alan Dean (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0038-9000

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