HOUSTON, April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A group of Vietnamese laborers sued two companies partly owned by the Vietnamese Government in Texas federal court today, alleging violations of human trafficking laws, according to The Buzbee Law Firm and co-counsel.
The 13 laborers named in the lawsuit allege that about 50 men in their group responded to TV advertisements in Vietnam for high-paying welding jobs around the Houston Ship Channel, then each paid thousands of dollars in travel and visa fees, and were later abandoned eight months into 30-month contracts in February 2009.
According to the complaint, "These poor, uneducated Vietnamese nationals were lured into the United States with the promise of high paying jobs, but instead were housed like animals, and treated like indentured servants." The laborers, subject to coercion and intimidation, were made to live in a run-down, dilapidated two-bedroom apartment in Pasadena, Texas in living conditions described in the lawsuit as deplorable.
The defendants are Hanoi-based companies International Investment Trade and Service Group, also known as Interserco, and Corporation Vietnam Automobile Industry, also known as Vinamotors. Both companies are partly owned by the Vietnamese Government. The defendants are accused of violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (TVPRA), the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the Alien Tort Claims Act, and conspiracy.
Attorneys Tony Buzbee of The Buzbee Law Firm, of Houston, and Tammy Tran, of Houston, represent the Vietnamese laborers, who now reside in Galveston County, Texas and in Louisiana.
Buzbee stated, "These men were transported nearly 10,000 miles from their homeland and essentially made to work in indentured servitude. After collecting exorbitant fees to bring them here, agents of the defendants deserted these men, leaving them penniless and facing possible deportation or business processes. They fear for their lives and the lives of their families in Vietnam. Because they were unable to earn any money as promised, they also risk losing their houses and other meager possessions in Vietnam. By terminating these men when they did, we allege the Defendants then replaced them with a new set of hopeful, unsuspecting laborers from whom additional fees and essentially free labor could be collected under this fraudulent scheme."
According to the complaint, Vietnamese companies export 85,000 laborers each year in the construction, fishing, or manufacturing sectors through informal networks and state-owned and private labor export companies.
The case is "Thang Hong Luu, et al., v. International Investment Trade and Service Group, et al.," Case No. 3:11-cv-00182 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division.
Contact: Anthony G. Buzbee, The Buzbee Law Firm, 800-992-5393.
SOURCE The Buzbee Law Firm