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Case Name Marimuthu v. Signal International, LLC IM-TX-0039
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-00499 ( 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, ten 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 Aug. 7, 2013, ten 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 $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.

Plaintiffs asserted claims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (18 U.S.C. §1589 (forced labor) and 18 U.S.C. §1590 (trafficking)), 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, as well as claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract. Plaintiffs were represented by private law firms.

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. 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. Magistrate Judge Hawthorn also issued a report and recommendation on July 30, 2014, denying Signal's motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiffs had pleaded enough factual content to draw the reasonable inference that the alleged pendent state law claims occurred in Texas, so that the Court had personal jurisdiction over defendants for alleged tortious acts committed there. Judge Crone adopted Magistrate Judge Hawthorn's report and recommendation on Sept. 9, 2014.

On Sept. 16, 2014, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint to allege that the Burnett (immigration attorney) defendants had violated the Ku Klux Klan Act and state tort law. On Feb. 27, 2015, Magistrate Judge Hawthorn recommended denying the Burnett defendants' motion to dismiss, finding that plaintiffs had validly pleaded the new claims. Judge Crone adopted this report and recommendation on Mar. 23, 2015.

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.

While discovery was underway, the Court stayed the case in July 2015 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, Marimuthu, 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 - 05/15/2015
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
State law
Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. § 1589
Defendant(s) Dewan Consultants
Global Resources, Inc.
Gulf Coast Immigration Law Center
Indo-Amerisoft, L.L.C.
Law Offices of Malvern C. Burnett
Malvern C. Burnett
Sachin Dewan
Signal International, Inc.
Plaintiff Description 10 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 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-499 (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0039-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 1]
IM-TX-0039-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/07/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Transfer [ECF# 58] (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0039-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/16/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation Denying Defendant Signal's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 24) [ECF# 60]
IM-TX-0039-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/30/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge [ECF# 61] (2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 126783)
IM-TX-0039-0004.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/01/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation Granting in Part the Burnett Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 64]
IM-TX-0039-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/12/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Adopting Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge [ECF# 68] (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0039-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/09/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 76]
IM-TX-0039-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/16/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 76]
IM-TX-0039-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/16/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation on Burnett's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 77) [ECF# 126] (2015 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 36743)
IM-TX-0039-0006.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/27/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Notice Updating the Court on Status of the Signal Bankruptcy Proceeding as of July 7, 2017 [ECF# 146]
IM-TX-0039-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Adoping Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge [ECF# 70] (E.D. Tex.)
IM-TX-0039-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/09/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Notice Updating the Court on Status of the Signal Bankruptcy Proceeding as of March 8, 2017 [ECF# 147]
IM-TX-0039-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/06/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Hawthorn, Zack (E.D. Tex.) [Magistrate]
IM-TX-0039-0002 | IM-TX-0039-0003 | IM-TX-0039-0004 | IM-TX-0039-0006 | IM-TX-0039-0007 | IM-TX-0039-0008 | IM-TX-0039-0009
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dorsey, James E (Minnesota)
IM-TX-0039-0001 | IM-TX-0039-0005 | IM-TX-0039-0010 | IM-TX-0039-0011 | IM-TX-0039-0012 | IM-TX-0039-9000
Findlay, Michael Douglas (Texas)
IM-TX-0039-0001 | IM-TX-0039-0005 | IM-TX-0039-0010 | IM-TX-0039-0011 | IM-TX-0039-9000
Findlay, Eric Hugh (Texas)
IM-TX-0039-0001 | IM-TX-0039-0005 | IM-TX-0039-0010 | IM-TX-0039-0011 | IM-TX-0039-0012 | IM-TX-0039-9000
Fraser, Thomas S (Minnesota)
IM-TX-0039-0001 | IM-TX-0039-9000
Hoidal, Sten-Erik (Minnesota)
IM-TX-0039-0001 | IM-TX-0039-0005 | IM-TX-0039-0010 | IM-TX-0039-0011 | IM-TX-0039-0012 | IM-TX-0039-9000
Hoppe, Lousene (Minnesota)
IM-TX-0039-0001 | IM-TX-0039-0005 | IM-TX-0039-0010 | IM-TX-0039-0011 | IM-TX-0039-0012 | IM-TX-0039-9000
Johnson, Andrew Francis (Minnesota)
IM-TX-0039-0005 | IM-TX-0039-0010 | IM-TX-0039-0011 | IM-TX-0039-0012 | IM-TX-0039-9000
O'Shea, Timothy (Minnesota)
IM-TX-0039-0001 | IM-TX-0039-0005 | IM-TX-0039-0010 | IM-TX-0039-0011 | IM-TX-0039-0012 | IM-TX-0039-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bollman, Patricia Anne F. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Cerniglia, Timothy W. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Cornblatt, James L. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Hangartner, Erin Casey (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Hasenkampf, Mitchell P. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Herman, Jonathan Marc (Texas)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Keller, Robert Louis (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Maney, Kevin P. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Masur Davis, Lauren C. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Rabbani, Elham (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Roux, Brian C. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Rydberg, Lance R. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Shapiro, Stephen H. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Ungar, Hal D. (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000
Weinberger, Alan Dean (Louisiana)
IM-TX-0039-9000

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