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12 Jan 2015

Sabrina Canfield, Courthouse News Service

Giant Human Smuggling Trial Begins Today

Trial begins Monday in a federal class action accusing Signal International of human trafficking and labor abuses in the massive construction work needed after Hurricane Katrina. Roughly 500 workers, mostly from India and the United Arab Emirates, claim Signal lured them to the United States with false promises of permanent U.S. residency and charged them "travel fees" of as much as $20,000 apiece for jobs at shipyards in Pascagoula, Miss. and Orange, Texas…The class action was filed in 2008 by 12 lead plaintiffs who said they were forced to work long hours for next to nothing and had money deducted from their checks each month for housing in an overcrowded, unsanitary labor camp. At least five similar lawsuits against Signal have been filed in Mississippi and Texas courts...