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Kaye Scholer Honored for Involvement in AmLaw’s Global Pro Bono Dispute of the Year

July 17, 2015

Kaye Scholer’s pro bono involvement with the Signal International Litigation, first filed in 2008 by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), was honored when American Lawyer named the case its Global Pro Bono Dispute of the Year for 2015.

The litigation involves a number of lawsuits representing more than 200 Indian guest workers, who were defrauded and exploited in a labor trafficking scheme engaged in by Signal International, a Gulf Coast marine services company, an immigration lawyer and an Indian labor recruiter who lured hundreds of workers to Mississippi and Texas shipyards with false promises of permanent US residency. The lawsuits were filed after a judge did not grant class action status, which would have allowed the suit to benefit most of Signal’s guest workers. The SPLC coordinated an unprecedented legal collaboration that brought together nearly a dozen of the nation’s top law firms and civil rights organizations to represent, on a pro bono basis, hundreds of workers excluded from the original SPLC suit by the denial of class action status. 

In August 2014, Kaye Scholer attorneys, along with the SPLC as co-counsel, filed a complaint against Signal and several other defendants in the Eastern District of Louisiana, becoming the eleventh action filed against Signal. Kaye Scholer represents 30 individuals who had been human trafficked and worked at Signal’s facilities in Pascagoula, Mississippi and Orange, Texas. Along with human trafficking claims, Kaye Scholer alleges RICO violations, fraud and breach of contract, and is also now representing the clients in association with Signal’s bankruptcy filing.  

New York-based Litigation Associate Mike Bullerman is the lead attorney on this ongoing case. The team also includes Associates Tricia Beckles, Yonina Rosenbaum and Tom Szivos, and Special Counsel Michael Blechman, Jane Parver and Randy Sherman.

Fellow law firms honored by American Lawyer for their involvement in the litigation include Crowell & Moring; Skadden Arps; Covington & Burling; DLA Piper; Fredrikson & Byron; Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton; Latham & Watkins; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; McDermott Will & Emery; Sahn Ward Coschignano & Baker; and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan.

Read the full list of American Lawyers’ 2015 Global Legal Award winners.

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