480 F.3d 351 (5th Cir. 2007), 05-30860, Abraham v. Singh

Docket Nº:05-30860.
Citation:480 F.3d 351
Party Name:Roy ABRAHAM; et al., Plaintiffs, Roy Abraham; Jacob George; Cicil Antony Akkara; Appala Raju Allipilli; Samuel Kutty Ampazhatthummootil; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. B.J. SINGH, individually etc.; et al., Defendants, Chad Chandler, individually; Falcon Steel Structures, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:February 26, 2007
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 351

480 F.3d 351 (5th Cir. 2007)

Roy ABRAHAM; et al., Plaintiffs,

Roy Abraham; Jacob George; Cicil Antony Akkara; Appala Raju Allipilli; Samuel Kutty Ampazhatthummootil; et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

B.J. SINGH, individually etc.; et al., Defendants,

Chad Chandler, individually; Falcon Steel Structures, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 05-30860.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

Feb. 26, 2007

Page 352

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 353

Bill Kent Felty (argued), Tulsa, OK, Brent D. Burley, The Burley Law Firm, Gonzales, LA, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Michael Reese Davis (argued), L.J. Hymel, Hymel, Davis & Petersen, LLC, Baton Rouge, LA, for Defendants-Appellees.

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Before JONES, Chief Judge, and WIENER and BARKSDALE, Circuit Judges.

EDITH H. JONES, Chief Judge:

What began with promising hopes for employment in the United States culminated in this RICO lawsuit by Indian citizens who were recruited under false pretenses to become steelworkers in Louisiana. The Plaintiffs appeal the district court's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) dismissal of their claim that Defendants violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968. Because the Plaintiffs have adequately pled a pattern of racketeering activity and stated claims under 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c) and (d), we REVERSE the dismissal of their RICO claim and REMAND for further proceedings.

I. BACKGROUND

According to the allegations in a lengthy complaint, the Plaintiffs were recruited by Chad Chandler between November 2000 and December 2002 to travel to the United States to work for his company, Falcon Steel Structures, Inc. ("Falcon Steel"). To persuade Plaintiffs to travel to the United States, Chandler allegedly made various misrepresentations regarding the terms of their employment and permanent resident status. Among other things, Chandler promised the Plaintiffs full-time employment for at least two years at Falcon

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Steel. Defendants obtained H2B visas for Plaintiffs, which they allege bound them to Falcon Steel, and arranged their transportation from India to Houma, Louisiana. In return, each Plaintiff paid Chandler between $7,000 and $20,000, often by obtaining loans in India at high interest rates.

Upon arriving in the United States, Plaintiffs found that things were not as promised. Contrary to what they had been told, Falcon Steel was not a manufacturing facility and had no jobs for them. Defendants confiscated their passports and housed them in poor conditions with little food. Chandler threatened Plaintiffs with punitive measures for complaining about the lack of employment or food. Plaintiffs were limited in their ability to find other work because of their limited-purpose visas, and those who inquired about employment elsewhere were threatened with imprisonment and deportation. Those Plaintiffs who found other employment, often by being "farmed out" by Falcon Steel, were assessed arbitrary fees and had their wages skimmed. Chandler also demanded an additional $5,000 for the already promised permanent resident status.

Defendants continued their unlawful scheme, Plaintiffs alleged, until this lawsuit was filed in January 2004. Plaintiffs sued Chandler and Falcon Steel, alleging human trafficking, state law claims of breach of contract and fraudulent inducement, and RICO violations. The alleged racketeering acts included money laundering, peonage, visa fraud, immigration violations, Travel Act violations, and Hobbs Act extortion. As required by local rules, Plaintiffs prepared a precisely worded RICO statement.

Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Concluding that the Plaintiffs had not shown that the predicate acts posed a threat of continuing racketeering activity, the district court granted the motion, dismissed the RICO claim, and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state-law claims. Plaintiffs now appeal. 1

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

This court reviews de novo the district court's dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Nolen v. Nucentrix Broadband Networks Inc., 293 F.3d 926, 928 (5th Cir.2002). We accept all of the Plaintiffs' allegations as true and uphold the district court's dismissal "only if it appears that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations." Word of Faith World Outreach Ctr. Church, Inc. v. Sawyer, 90 F.3d 118, 122 (5th Cir.1996)...

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