November 07, 2013 Articles

Coordinated Suits Signal Change in Human-Trafficking Litigation

An unprecedented cooperative effort to address the problem of corporate-sponsored human trafficking that often evades prosecution.

By Morgen Morrissette – November 7, 2013

In 2008, 12 named plaintiffs brought suit against Signal International, LLC, on behalf of a class of 500 Indian nationals allegedly trafficked into the United States by Signal and an organized international-trafficking ring that included a network of labor recruiters and an immigration attorney. David v. Signal Intern., LLC, 588 F. Supp. 2d 718, 718–25 (E.D. La. 2008).

The suit alleged that Signal worked closely with labor recruiters in India and the United Arab Emirates to target and recruit skilled Indian workers to work in Signal’s shipyards post-hurricane Katrina. Signal, through its recruiters and an immigration attorney, Malvern C. Burnett, and his business Gulf Coast Immigration Law Center, LLC, and Law Offices of Malvern C. Burnett, A.P.C. (collectively “Burnett”), promised victims high wages, long term employment, and, most importantly, green cards for workers and their families, which would pave the way to permanent US residency.

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