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Case Name Kambala v. Signal International, LLC IM-TX-0038
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-00498 ( 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, 16 Indian guestworkers filed this 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, 16 Indian guestworkers filed this 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. The amended complaint, filed on behalf of 21 individuals, asserted claims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (18 U.S.C. §1589 (forced labor) and 18 U.S.C. §1590 (trafficking)), the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. §1962), the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. §1981), the Ku Kux 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 the Equal Justice Center and the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic.

Plaintiffs were allegedly brought into the United States to provide labor and services to defendant Signal International. Signal was based in Pascagoula, Mississippi and was in the business of providing repairs to offshore oil rigs in the Gulf Coast region. One plaintiff worked in Pascagoula; the remaining plaintiffs worked at Signal's Orange, Texas site. 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.

In July 2014, U.S. 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. Magistrate Judge Hawthorn found the similarity in issues in the cases not substantial enough to warrant transfer because the current venue was otherwise proper.

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.

Trial was set for December 2015. However, in July 2015, the Court stayed the case 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, the parties were to update the court every 120 days as to the status of the bankruptcy proceedings. The parties' report on July 5, 2018 noted that 20 of the 21 plaintiffs had reached a settlement with the Burnett (immigration attorney) defendants, and the remaining one plaintiff could not be located. The plaintiffs advised that they would be dismissing their claims against them soon because the Burnett defendants had met their obligations under the settlement. Plaintiffs requested the stay remain in effect as to the Signal defendants and Dewan (recruiter) defendants.

On August 24, 2018, Magistrate Judge Hawthorn issued a report and recommendation to dismiss without prejudice the one remaining plaintiff who did not respond to the court’s order. District Judge Ron Judge Clark adopted the report and recommendation on September 12, 2018 and dismissed this plaintiff without prejudice.

The case is ongoing as to the Signal defendants and Dewan defendants. As of August 2, 2020, there has been no changes in the docket.

Anna Dimon - 05/14/2015
Ava Morgenstern - 03/14/2018
Sichun Liu - 08/02/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Immigration status
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
Bathing and hygiene
Disparate Treatment
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Loss or damage to property
Racial segregation
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Employer sanctions
Immigration lawyers
Temporary foreign workers program
U.S. citizenship - acquiring
National Origin/Ethnicity
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Asian/Pacific Islander
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1985
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961 et seq.
State law
Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. § 1589
Defendant(s) Billy R. Wilks
Dewan Consultants
Global Resources, Inc.
Gulf Coast Immigration Law Center
Indo-Amerisoft, L.L.C.
J & M Marine & Industrial LLC
J&M Associates of Mississippi, Inc.
Kurella Rao
Law Offices of Malvern C. Burnett
Malvern C. Burnett
Michael Pol
Sachin Dewan
Signal International, Inc.
Plaintiff Description 21 Indian guestworkers fraudulently recruited to work in the U.S.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Source of Relief Settlement
Filed 08/07/2013
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.)
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
E.D. Tex.
IM-TX-0038-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Tex.
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-TX-0038-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Transfer [ECF# 56]
IM-TX-0038-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 117]
IM-TX-0038-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Plaintiff's Status Report [ECF# 131]
IM-TX-0038-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Status Report [ECF# 132]
IM-TX-0038-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Status Report [ECF# 133]
IM-TX-0038-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Tex.
Report and Recommendation Dismissing Plaintiff Dalli [ECF# 138]
IM-TX-0038-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Clark, Ron (E.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
Hawthorn, Zack (E.D. Tex.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
IM-TX-0038-0003 | IM-TX-0038-0006 | IM-TX-0038-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Beardall, William H. Jr. (Texas) show/hide docs
Sabourian, Kayvon (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0038-0001 | IM-TX-0038-0002 | IM-TX-0038-0005 | IM-TX-0038-9000
Willett, Christopher Joseph (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0038-0001 | IM-TX-0038-0002 | IM-TX-0038-0004 | IM-TX-0038-0005 | IM-TX-0038-0007 | IM-TX-0038-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bollman, Patricia Anne F. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Cerniglia, Timothy W. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0038-0005 | IM-TX-0038-9000
Cornblatt, James L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Davis, Lauren Masur (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Hangartner, Erin Casey (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Hasenkampf, Mitchell P. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Herman, Jonathan Marc (Texas) show/hide docs
Keller, Robert Louis (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Maney, Kevin P. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Masur Davis, Lauren C. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Rabbani, Elham (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Roux, Brian C. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Rydberg, Lance R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Shapiro, Stephen H. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-TX-0038-0005 | IM-TX-0038-9000
Ungar, Hal D. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
Weinberger, Alan Dean (Louisiana) show/hide docs

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