Cambodian victims of trafficking file lawsuit against seafood importers in California

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Article
28 October 2016

Judge to decide if US lawsuit brought by Cambodian victims of trafficking against seafood importers will go to trial

Author: Ola Wietecha, Undercurrent News (UK)

"Judge to rule if US human trafficking lawsuit against Walmart suppliers can proceed", 25 Oct 2016

A civil lawsuit seeking damages caused by alleged human trafficking brought by seven Cambodians against two US and two Thai firms may move forward early next month...The suit, filed in June in a California federal court, accuses the firms, which are suppliers to retail giant Walmart, of knowingly profiting from the villagers' working conditions and violating the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act...[T]he four companies - US-based importers Rubicon Resources and Wales & Co. Universe, and Thai seafood companies Phatthana Seafood Co. Ltd. and S.S. Frozen Food Co. Ltd. – filed a motion in mid-August to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds...A hearing is scheduled for November 7, where Judge John Walter will decide whether or not to accept the motion to dismiss which will determine if the case goes to trial or not.  The plaintiffs filed a response to the dismissal...arguing that the case should move forward and that the defendants' reasoning was flawed...[T]he plaintiffs said that the defendants' failed to take into account changes that had been made to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2008...

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Article
9 August 2016

US seafood importers miss Judge’s deadline for responding to lawsuit brought by Cambodian victims of trafficking

Author: VOA on Big News Network

“Seafood Firms Ordered to Respond to Cambodian Workers' Complaint”, 4 Aug 2016

Two American importers missed a federal judge's deadline for responding to a complaint by seven Cambodian laborers allegedly exploited while working in Thailand's seafood industry.  Failing to comply with the order will result in a judgment favoring the plaintiffs…As of late July, the U.S. firms, Rubicon Resources and Wales amp; Co. Universe, had not responded to the complaint; their deadline passed last week…A law firm representing the…plaintiffs filed a complaint against the four companies on June 15.  The Cambodians were recruited from their rural villages…and became victims of "human trafficking, forced labor, involuntary servitude and peonage"…Shocking levels of exploitation in Thailand's seafood industry have been exposed by journalists and human rights advocates in recent years.  The industry benefits from the copious supply of cheap labor that comes to Thailand, mostly from Cambodia and Myanmar…In the complaint, the victims demand damages because of loss of work opportunities, assets and education…

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Article
16 June 2016

U.S. lawsuit against seafood importers makes claims of human trafficking

Author: Sebastien Malo, Reuters

Rural Cambodian villagers have filed a lawsuit against four U.S. and Thai companies, accusing them of trafficking and making them work in forced-labor conditions in a Thai seafood factory.  Their civil complaint filed in California federal court accuses the four companies in a joint venture of violating the Trafficking Victims Protection Act…Retailing giant Walmart purchases shrimp…according to the complaint.  The five men and two women filing suit in a Los Angeles court claim that after they left their homeland for Thailand, factory managers confiscated their passports and made them work up to six days a week for wages that were less than promised…The complaint claims the Cambodian workers were victims of involuntary and debt servitude, forced labor and human trafficking…The named companies include Rubicon Resources, incorporated in Delaware with an office in Culver City, California, and Wales & Co. Universe Ltd., incorporated in Thailand but registered to conduct business in California, the complaint said.  The two Thai companies are Phatthana Seafood and S.S. Frozen Food…The workers are seeking an unspecified amount of money for unpaid wages, mental anguish, pain and suffering…

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Article
15 June 2016

Human Trafficking and Forced Labor Victims File Lawsuit Against California-based Seafood Importers

Author: Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC on Globe Newswire

Victims of human trafficking in the multi-billion dollar seafood industry supply chain…filed suit in California federal court.  The seven plaintiffs were recruited from their home villages in rural Cambodia to work at factories in Thailand producing shrimp and seafood for export to the United States…[T]he five men and two women became victims of human trafficking, forced labor, involuntary servitude, and peonage…The defendants sell their shrimp and seafood to large U.S. customers like Walmart and include California-based Rubicon Resources, LLC, and an affiliate, Wales & Co. Universe Ltd, as well as Thai corporations Phatthana Seafood and S.S. Frozen Food…The Trafficking Victims Protection Act authorizes victims of human trafficking to pursue a remedy against whoever knowingly benefits…from participation in a venture which that person knew or should have known has engaged in an act of trafficking or forced labor…

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Article
15 June 2016

Ratha et al, Plaintiffs, vs. Phatthana Seafood Co., Ltd.; S.S. Frozen Food Co., Ltd.; Doe Corporations 1-5; Rubicon Resources, LLC; and Wales & Co. Universe Ltd., Defendants. Complaint for Damages

Author: Dan Stormer, Mary Tanagho Ross, Agnieszka Fryszman, Alysson Ford Ouoba, Anthony DiCaprio, Paul L. Hoffman & Catherine E. Sweetser, Cohen Milstein

This is an action brought by survivors of human trafficking. The Plaintiffs, villagers in rural Cambodia, were recruited for work at factories in Thailand producing shrimp and seafood for export to the United States.  Instead of the good jobs at good wages they were promised, the men and women became victims of human trafficking, forced labor, involuntary servitude, and peonage.  The Defendants, including corporations based in California, were participants in a joint venture that in violation of U.S. law knowingly profited from the import and sale of shrimp and seafood produced with trafficked labor.  The United States government, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and media outlets have highlighted the problems of trafficking and forced labor at Thai shrimp and seafood factories…The Plaintiffs bring claims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act…

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