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Lagasan v. Al-Ghasel

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

March 17, 2015

ARMIYA BANI LAGASAN, Plaintiff,
v.
HADBAN AL-GHASEL, et al., Defendants

Decided: March 12, 2015

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Armiya Bani Lagasan, Plaintiff: Jason Craig Schwartz, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Washington, DC; Anna Maria McKenzie, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP (DC), Washington, DC.

Page 449

ORDER

Anthony J. Trenga, United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation [Doc. No. 18] of the Magistrate Judge recommending that default judgment be entered against defendants Hadban Al-Ghasel and Jimla Al-Ghasel (" defendants" ) and in favor of plaintiff Armiya Bani Lagasan (" plaintiff" ), in the amount of $749,351. No objections to the Report and Recommendation have been filed. The Court conducted a de novo review of the evidence in this case and adopts and incorporates the findings and recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. Accordingly, it is hereby

ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1) [Doc. No. 13] be, and the same hereby is, GRANTED; and it is further ORDERED that default judgment be, and the same hereby is, entered against defendants, jointly and severally, and in favor of plaintiff, in the amount of $749,351, which consists of $369,606 in compensatory damages under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (" TVPA" ), $369,606 in punitive damages under the TVPA, and an additional $10,319 in damages for breach of contract.

The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in accordance with this Order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 58 and to forward copies of this Order to all counsel of record and to defendants at the following addresses:

Jimla Al-Ghasel a/k/a Zamia Mohd a/k/a Zamla Mohd
100 South Reynolds Street, #603
Alexandria, VA 22304
Habdan Al-Ghasel
100 South Reynolds Street, #603
Alexandria, VA 22304

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

THERESA CARROLL BUCHANAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

This matter comes before the Court on Motion for Default Judgment by plaintiff Armiya Bani Lagasan (" plaintiff" ) against defendants Hadban Al-Ghasel and Jimla Al-Ghasel, also known as Zamia Mohd, also known as Zamla Mohd (" defendants" ). (Dkt. 13.) After a representative for defendants failed to respond to plaintiff's Motion or to appear at the hearing on January 9, 2015, the undersigned Magistrate Judge took this matter under advisement.[1]

INTRODUCTION

I. Background

Plaintiff is a 27-year-old Filipino woman who was trafficked through Qatar into the United States and forced to work excessive hours in abominable working and living conditions for meager wages by defendants

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Hadban Al-Ghasel (" defendant Mr. Al-Ghasel" ) and Jimla Al-Ghasel, also known as Zamia Mohd, also known as Zamla Mohd (" defendant Mrs. Al-Ghasel" ). (Compl. ¶ ¶ 1-2.) Plaintiff had previously lived in the Philippines with her husband, daughter and other family members, and decided to travel abroad to work as a domestic servant so she could send money home to her family. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 27-32.) Plaintiff was recruited by an individual in the Philippines and a recruiting agency, which arranged for her to travel to Qatar and work as a domestic servant. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 33-48.) The representative for the recruiting agency gave plaintiff a receipt indicating that her salary in Qatar would be $400 USD per month. (Id. at ¶ 47.)

Plaintiff worked from September 28, 2010 to February 12, 2011, in Qatar for members of defendants' families. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 53-74.) Plaintiff was then sent to the United States in February 2011 to work for defendants in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶ ¶ 76, 86.) Defendants confiscated plaintiff's passport and visa upon her arrival in the United States. (Id. at ¶ 82.) From January 12, 2011 until August 30, 2012, defendants forced plaintiff to work at least 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for as little as $200 per month. (Id. at ¶ 2.) They prohibited her from leaving the house, from communicating with anyone outside their presence, and denied her access to medical care, while subjecting her to verbal abuse and inhumane living conditions. (Id.) Plaintiff was rescued by ICE agents from the defendants' home on August 30, 2012. (Id. at ¶ 6.)

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (" TVPA" ), 18 U.S.C. § § 1589 and 1590, the Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and Virginia state law. (Id. at ¶ 10.)

II. Jurisdiction and Venue

Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the entry of default judgment when " a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend." The court must have both subject matter and personal jurisdiction over a defaulting party before it can render default judgment.

This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because plaintiff's allegations concern the TVPA, 18 U.S.C. § § 1589 and 1590, and the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. This Court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 because they form part of the same case or controversy and share a common nucleus of operative fact with her federal law claims. Therefore, federal question subject matter jurisdiction exists.

This Court has personal jurisdiction over defendants because they purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of conducting activities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Specifically, defendants employed plaintiff to work as a domestic servant within this district from September 2011 through August 2012. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Therefore, personal jurisdiction is proper.

Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claims occurred in this district, and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(1) because defendants are residents of the ...


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