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CASE NAME:Escolastico De Leon-Granados v. Eller and Sons Trees, Inc.
ALL PLAINTIFFS:Escolastico De Leon-Granados, Rene Villatoro-De Leon, Isaias Profeta De Leon-Granados, Armenio Pablo-Calm, Margarito Recinos-Villatoro, Osmar Osiel De Leon-Lucas, Nelson Ignacio Hernandez-Lopez, Marcial Sales-Diaz, Samual Eduardo Tecun, Ruben Perez-Lucas, Rosanio Concepcion-Matias, Felix Morales-Antonio, Protasio Burgos-Maldonado, Cristian Emilio Lucano Gutierrez, Agustin Soto Rios, Alberto Diaz-Diaz, Jose Ruiz-Rodriguez, Juan Aguilar-Vasquez, Aureliano Rivas-Lucas, Sergio Roldan, Alejandro Luis-Morales, Jose Maria Tomas-Recinos
ALL DEFENDANTS:Eller and Sons Trees Inc., Jerry Eller
CITATION:
DOCKET NUMBER:1:05-CV-1473-CC
SOURCE:Lexis Search, Google Scholar, Southern Poverty Law Ctr. article
TYPE OF CASE:Civil
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TYPE OF COURT:Federal
STATE:Georgia
FEDERAL DISTRICT:Northern District Court
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AGE OF VICTIM(S):
NUMBER OF VICTIMS:1500+
GENDER OF VICTIM(S):Female and Male
VICTIM'S COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Colombia
METHOD OF ENTRY INTO THE U.S.:H-2B visa
WAS VICTIM CHARGED WITH A CRIME:No
NUMBER OF DEFENDANT(S):2
GENDER OF DEFENDANT(S):Male
TYPE OF INDUSTRY:Labor
CASE CATEGORIZATION:Agricultural Industry, Construction Industry
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FIRST CLAIM:AWPA violation
FIRST CLAIM US/STATE CODE CITATION:Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1801-71 (1999)
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DAMAGES AWARDED FOR FIRST CLAIM:53,890.86
SECOND CLAIM:FLSA violation
SECOND CLAIM US/STATE CODE CITATION:Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-19
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APPEAL:Yes
EXPLANATION OF APPEAL:
APPELLATE OPINION CITATION:497 F.3d 1214
HOLDING OF APPEALS COURT:Affirmed class action certification
APPEAL STILL PENDING?:No
SUMMARY:Defendant Eller & Sons is a Georgia-based tree-planting business. Plaintiffs worked for Defendant between 1999 and 2007. Multiple Plaintiffs were forced to hand over their land deeds to the Defendants’ “agents” in the Plaintiffs’ home country if they wanted to be employed by Defendant. “These Plaintiffs and other class members were thus particularly vulnerable to coercion and exploitation by the Defendants, as they believed they might lose their property if they failed to comply with the directives of the Defendants.” (Plaintiffs’ Compl. Jan. 2006.) According to the victims, they were not paid for the time it took to clear away the brush through which they had to walk in order to plant the trees; they did not receive overtime wages; their paychecks did not reflect the number of hours they worked but only the number of trees they planted; they were often paid less than the federal minimum wage. Plaintiffs, at their own expense, obtained H-2B visas, which would allow them to temporarily work in the U.S. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants violated the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA) by not reimbursing them for their visa and travel expenses, and also for not paying the required overtime. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant did not pay them the amount that was required by virtue of having an H-2B visa and as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Plaintiffs were granted class certification on their FLSA claim and, eventually, on their AWPA claims. The Defendants appealed the class action certification of the Plaintiffs’ AWPA claims in an interlocutory appeal. The 11th Circuit affirmed the certification in an order dated August 31, 2007. The Court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs in October 2008.
Approval Status:Approved
Approver Comments:
            
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