Nepali TraffickingPractice Area: Human Rights
Cohen Milstein represents the families of 12 men and one surviving laborer who were trafficked from Nepal to Iraq. The men believed they were going to work at hotels in Jordan and elsewhere, but instead were instead taken against their will to work for a US military contractor in Iraq. Unfortunately, the 12 men were captured by insurgents and killed on the way to the US base where they were to work. Their families and the surviving laborer filed suit in the United States against the contractors, KBR and Daoud & Partners, under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This is one of the first cases against a corporation under the human trafficking statute. The plaintiffs also brought claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
On November 3, 2009, the court in Texas turned aside KBR’s effort to stop the lawsuit. Judge Keith Ellison (S.D. Texas) held that plaintiffs’ claims may go forward. In denying KBR’s motion to dismiss, the Court found that the Trafficking Victim Protect Act applied to this suit; that trafficking and forced labor were violations of international law; and that the RICO violations could be prosecuted extraterritorially.
On December 12, 2011, the court ruled that it has personal jurisdiction over the second defendant, Daoud & Partners. Daoud & Partners, a subcontractor to KBR, earned 100% of its revenue from KBR and U.S. Government contracts during the relevant time period.
Since both defendants’ motions to dismiss have now been denied, the plaintiffs are preparing to prove their claims at trial.