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Human Trafficking Lawsuits

Sep 27, 2022
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Human trafficking is a much larger issue across the globe, including in the United States, than some may assume. A form of modern-day slavery, human trafficking as an industry makes hundreds of billions of dollars each year and counts on the silence of hotels, motels, and commercial airlines to keep business going. Filing a human trafficking lawsuit against companies that allowed or turned a blind eye to sex trafficking on their property can help survivors obtain justice and financial compensation for the crimes committed against them.

Edwards Pottinger is dedicated to obtaining justice on behalf of survivors of sex crimes and human trafficking. Our human trafficking lawyers are highly experienced in representing victims of sex trafficking and even represented women in the sex trafficking lawsuits against Jeffrey Epstein. If you or a loved one ar a survivor of sex trafficking, contact us today for a free legal consultation.

Key Takeaways

  • Human trafficking is a crime that exists in all countries and can affect people of all races, genders, ages, and nationalities.
  • Types of human trafficking include sex trafficking, labor trafficking, people smuggling, organ trafficking, and trafficking for forced criminal activities.
  • Federal law allows survivors of human trafficking to file lawsuits against traffickers and any third party that may have enabled human trafficking.

Human Trafficking Lawsuits: Know Your Rights

Unfortunately, underground criminals are not the only perpetrators in the human trafficking crisis. Many well-known corporations and businesses— including commercial airlines, hotels and motels, truckstops, restaurants, and nightclubs—turn a blind eye to human trafficking or sometimes even profit off of it. When corporations enable human traffickers, they could be held responsible for the damage inflicted on the survivors of human trafficking.

In 2003, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) was enacted to give survivors of human trafficking the right to sue labor traffickers. The TVPRA’s list of human trafficking survivors who can file lawsuits in federal court was expanded in 2008 to include survivors of sex trafficking. This law allows survivors to pursue legal action against whoever knowingly benefits, either financially or otherwise, from the human trafficking crimes that were committed against them.

Filing a human trafficking lawsuit can give survivors a form of closure and the financial resources necessary to access the support they need to heal. A human trafficking lawyer can help hold the perpetrators and any enablers accountable for the trauma and damages that ensued as a result of human trafficking. Additionally, holding offenders accountable can serve to prevent human trafficking crimes in the future.

What is Human Trafficking?

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is defined as the use of force or coercion to obtain some form of labor or commercial sex act. While sex trafficking crimes tend to get the most media attention, human trafficking includes any type of forced labor or people smuggling.

What Are the Different Types of Human Trafficking?

Sexual exploitation

Sex trafficking occurs in every area of the world. Women and children both from developing and developed countries can be kidnapped or lured into sex trafficking with promise of a better life and a good-paying job. These individuals are often transported using fake documents to the destination country where they are then sexually exploited upon arrival. Sexual exploitation of women and children can range from prostitution to live sex shows, strip clubs or exotic dancing, mail order brides, pornography (including child pornography), military prostitution and sexual tourism.

Forced labor

Labor trafficking victims often come from developing countries where they are recruited using force or under false pretenses. Individuals may be forced to work in manufacturing, agriculture, construction, domestic servitude, and other jobs involving intensive labor and poor working conditions.

Forced criminal activities

The trafficking of victims for criminal activities allows traffickers and other criminals to profit from various crimes. Victims may be forced to engage in a variety of illegal activities, including drug production and transport, theft, terrorism, and more.

Removal of organs

Criminals in some countries with long waitlists for organ donors may exploit patients in need of organ transfer as well as potential donors. Operations on organ trafficking victims are often done in dangerous conditions with no follow-up care, putting their lives at risk.

People smuggling

Human traffickers may prey on migrants moving between countries. This may involve forcing migrants to work in unsafe or inhumane conditions to pay to illegally cross the border.

What Industries Can Be Involved in Human Trafficking?

Many different types of businesses in all industries can be involved in human trafficking. Companies may use laborers who have been trafficked to fulfill staffing needs for free or may look the other way when their property or business is used to facilitate human trafficking.

Examples of types of businesses that could be held liable for human trafficking include:

  • Adult entertainment
  • Agriculture
  • Caregiving
  • Child care
  • Construction
  • Drug smuggling and distribution
  • Fairs and carnivals
  • Hospitality
  • Janitorial services
  • Massage parlors
  • Prostitution
  • Salon services
  • Traveling sales

Who is Most Vulnerable to Human Trafficking?

According to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), anyone can become a victim of human trafficking, regardless of age, gender, race, national origin, or socioeconomic status. However, traffickers often prey on people who are vulnerable, poor, in an unstable living situation, or in search of a better life.

The DOJ lists the following populations as being the most vulnerable to human trafficking in the U.S.:

  • American Indian and Alaskan Native communities
  • The LGBTQ community
  • Undocumented migrants
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Runaway or homeless youth
  • Temporary-guest workers
  • Low-income individuals

How Do Human Traffickers Transport Their Victims?

Traffickers transport their victims in plain sight using planes, trains, cars, rideshare services, buses, and ships. Individuals who work in the transportation industry, including airline and trucking employees, should be trained to look out for common signs of human trafficking.

What is the Connection Between Commercial Businesses and Human Trafficking?

Recently, several large hotel and motel companies have been under scrutiny for allegations that they ignored tell-tale signs of human trafficking. Social media platforms and other websites have come under fire for being used by traffickers for recruiting. Federal law allows survivors to file a lawsuit against businessess well as individuals who were complicit in or turned a blind eye to human trafficking.

What Are The Signs of Human Trafficking?

The warning signs of human trafficking can differ based on the type of trafficking taking place. According to the State Department, red flags that may indicate an individual is a victim of human trafficking include:

  • Living with their employer or at their place of employment
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Poor living conditions
  • Cannot or will not speak for themself
  • Submissive or fearful
  • Looks malnourished
  • Has poor physical or dental health
  • Lack of possession or identification

Where is Human Trafficking Most Common?

Human trafficking occurs all over the world. States with the highest rates of human trafficking include Texas, California, Florida, and Nevada. Common locations where human trafficking could be occurring include massage parlors, nail salons, agriculture, construction, hospitality, and childcare.

What Laws Are in Place Against Human Trafficking?

The 2003 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act gave survivors of human trafficking the right to sue labor traffickers. In 2008, this was expanded to give sex trafficking survivors the right to file a lawsuit against any party that “knowingly benefits” from human trafficking or who willfully ignored obvious signs of human trafficking.

Who Can Be Sued in a Human Trafficking Lawsuit?

Survivors can file a human trafficking lawsuit against any party that played a part in or who financially benefitted from human trafficking. The most common defendants in human trafficking lawsuits include hotels, casinos, nightclubs, farms and agricultural companies, airlines, transportation companies, and restaurants.

How Can Filing a Lawsuit Help Human Trafficking Survivors?

Filing a human trafficking lawsuit can allow survivors to recover compensation for the damages they sustained as well as provide closure and the resources necessary to rebuild their life after the trauma of human trafficking. In addition, holding businesses and corporations responsible for enabling human traffic can help deter it from happening in the future.

If you are considering filing a lawsuit, a human trafficking attorney can advocate on your behalf and fight for maximum compensation for the trauma you have endured. The human trafficking lawyers of Edwards Pottinger have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of victims, including a $71 million verdict on behalf of a rape survivor.

How Do I Report Human Trafficking?

To report a crime or an emergency, call 911. To report a suspected human trafficking crime, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 and/or US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement at 1-866-347-2423 or submit a tip online.

Human Trafficking Lawsuits: FAQs

1. Can human trafficking survivors come forward anonymously in a civil lawsuit?

Laws regarding anonymity in human trafficking cases differ by state. A human trafficking attorney can seek a court order to protect the identity of survivors in states that do not grant these protections by default.

2. What is the statute of limitations for a human trafficking case?

There is no federal statute of limitations for human trafficking cases. State statutes of limitations for human trafficking vary from state to state.

3. Does a sex trafficker need to be criminally convicted to sue?

No. Human traffickers, including sex traffickers, do not need to be criminally convicted in order to be sued for damages.

4. How can a human trafficking lawyer help me?

A human trafficking attorney can guide you through the legal process as well as act as your advocate. Hiring a human trafficking lawyer can also help survivors obtain the maximum potential compensation for their losses.

5. How does a civil lawsuit differ from a criminal case?

The criminal court exists to punish criminals but not to compensate the victim. A civil lawsuit can provide survivors of human trafficking with financial compensation for what they went through by holding perpetrators and relevant third parties financially liable for their role in human trafficking.

6. How many states have human trafficking laws?

All 50 states have laws against human trafficking.

7. What is law enforcement doing to stop human trafficking?

Amendments to the TVPRA have placed greater responsibility on law enforcement to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases. Additionally, the U.S. State Department laid out plans for a three-year comprehensive approach to combatting human trafficking that involves a coordinated effort between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Resources for Human Trafficking Survivors

If you are a survivor of human trafficking or suspect that someone else may be affected by human trafficking, the following organizations may be helpful:

Fight Back and Talk to a Human Trafficking Lawyer Today

Survivors of human trafficking deserve justice and compensation for the horrific crimes committed against them. If you or a loved one have been affected by human trafficking, Edwards Pottinger can help hold the offenders and parties who enabled them accountable for the damage they caused. Contact us today to speak with a compassionate human trafficking lawyer for a free legal consultation.

Article Sources

  1. U.S State Department. Federal Response on Human Trafficking.
  2. U.S State Department. Identify and Assist a Trafficking Victim.
  3. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. What Is Human Trafficking?.
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