Ratha v. Phatthana Seafood Co.

Decision Date25 February 2022
Docket Number18-55041
Citation35 F.4th 1159
Parties Keo RATHA; Sem Kosal; Sophea Bun; Yem Ban; Nol Nakry; Phan Sophea; Sok Sang, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. PHATTHANA SEAFOOD CO., Ltd.; S.S. Frozen Food Co., Ltd. ; Rubicon Resources, LLC; Wales and Co. Universe Ltd., Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Paul Hoffman (argued) and Catherine Sweetser, Schonbrun Seplow Harris Hoffman & Zeldes LLP, Hermosa Beach, California; Agnieszka M. Fryszman and Nichols Jacques, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Washington, D.C.; Dan Stormer, Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP, Pasadena, California; Anthony DiCaprio, Rye, New York; Dan Stormer, Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP, Pasadena, California; for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Bryan D. Daly (argued), Charles Lawrence Kreindler, and Barbara E. Taylor, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Los Angeles, California, for Defendants-Appellees.

William J. Aceves, California Western School of Law, San Diego, California, for Amicus Curiae Human Rights and Development Foundation.

Daniel McLaughlin, Scott A. Gilmore, Carmen K. Cheung, and Katerina Siefkas, Center for Justice and Accountability, San Francisco, California; Beth Van Schaack, Stanford University, Stanford, California; Ralph G. Steinhardt, George Washington University School of Law, Washington, D.C.; for Amicus Curiae Center for Justice and Accountability.

Eli Naduris-Weissman, Rothner Segall & Greenstone, Pasadena, California, for Amici Curiae Solidarity Center, International Labor Rights Forum, Worker Rights Consortium, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, International Labor Recruitment Working Group, and EarthRights International.

Anne M. Voigts, King & Spalding LLP, Palo Alto, California; Amelia G. Yowell, King & Spalding LLP, Washington, D.C.; for Amici Curiae Freedom Network USA, Human Trafficking Legal Center, Public Counsel, Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Arkansas School of Law, Civil Litigation and Advocacy Clinic at the University of Arkansas School of Law, Professor Janie Chuang, and Professor David Abramowitz.

Robert A. DeHaan, McLean, Virginia, for Amicus Curiae National Fisheries Institute.

John Burton, John Burton Law, Pasadena, California; Jennifer J. Rosenbaum, Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum, Washington, D.C.; for Amici Curiae Human and Workers' Rights Organizations.

Marco Simons, Sean Powers, Richard Herz, Benjamin Hoffman, and Lindsay Bailey, EarthRights International, Washington, D.C., for Amici Curiae Law Professors of Civil Procedure.

Before: Marsha S. Berzon, Ryan D. Nelson, and Bridget S. Bade, Circuit Judges.

ORDER

The opinion filed on February 25, 2022, is amended as follows:

On opinion page ––––, footnote 9, replace "universal jurisdiction," and then applied here to define "present in" for purposes of § 1596.> with "universal jurisdiction.">.

On opinion page ––––, line 5, replace § 1596(a)(2)> with we need not decide whether § 1596(a)(2) requires physical presence because even assuming the statute>.

On opinion page ––––, lines 8–9, delete .

On opinion page ––––, line 8, replace with .

On opinion page ––––, lines 9–10, insert "knowingly benefits" portion of> between and § 1595>.

On opinion page ––––, footnote 16, insert § 1594(a) creates liability for an attempt to violate some of the TVPRA's substantive provisions, the term "perpetrator," as used in § 1595(a), could be read to include those who have only attempted to violate the TVPRA.> between § 1595(a).> and .

On opinion page ––––, footnote 16, replace with .

On opinion page ––––, footnote 16, insert between and .

On opinion page ––––, line 4, insert a footnote with the following text after : whether an attempt to "knowingly benefit ... from participation in a venture which that person knew or should have known" violated the TVPRA is actionable under § 1595(a).>.

The Clerk shall file the amended opinion submitted with this Order.

Appellants' petition for rehearing en banc, Dkt. 93, is otherwise DENIED. No further petitions for rehearing may be filed.

BADE, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs-Appellants are Cambodian villagers who allege that they were trafficked into Thailand and subjected to forced labor at seafood processing factories. Plaintiffs allege that Thai companies perpetrated these offenses, and that companies present in the United States knowingly benefitted from their forced labor. Plaintiffs brought their claims under 18 U.S.C. § 1595,1 the civil remedy provision of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act ("TVPA"), as reauthorized and amended in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 and the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.2

We are asked to determine the extraterritorial reach of § 1595 and to construe the terms of that provision. We assume without deciding that § 1595 may apply extraterritorially and conclude that Plaintiffs did not present a triable issue on the requirements for such application or on the merits of their claims. Therefore, the district court properly entered summary judgment against Plaintiffs. We also conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Plaintiffs' motion for an extension of time to respond to Defendants' motions for summary judgment. We affirm.

I
A

In 2000, Congress enacted the TVPA "to ‘combat trafficking in persons, a contemporary manifestation of slavery whose victims are predominantly women and children, to ensure just and effective punishment of traffickers, and to protect their victims.’ " Ditullio v. Boehm , 662 F.3d 1091, 1094 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Pub. L. No. 106-386, § 102, 114 Stat. 1464 (2000) (codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §§ 1589 – 1592 )). By enacting this statute, "Congress created several new federal criminal offenses intended to more comprehensively and effectively combat human trafficking." Roe v. Howard , 917 F.3d 229, 236 (4th Cir. 2019).

In 2003, Congress reauthorized and amended the TVPRA, adding a civil remedy provision codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1595. See Ditullio , 662 F.3d at 1094. Initially, that provision provided civil remedies only for violations of § 1589 (forced labor), § 1590 (trafficking), and § 1591 (sex trafficking of children). See Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, Pub. L. No. 108-193, § 4(a)(4)(A), 117 Stat. 2875 (2003). But in 2008, Congress again reauthorized the TVPRA and amended it to expand the civil remedies provision, which now provides:

An individual who is a victim of a violation of this chapter may bring a civil action against the perpetrator (or whoever knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value from participation in a venture which that person knew or should have known has engaged in an act in violation of this chapter) in an appropriate district court of the United States and may recover damages and reasonable attorneys fees.

18 U.S.C. § 1595(a) (providing a civil remedy for the offenses listed in Title 18, Chapter 77, "Peonage, Slavery, and Trafficking in Persons"); see Ditullio , 662 F.3d at 1094 n.1.

The 2008 amendments also added § 1596, which authorizes extraterritorial application for specific sections of the TVPRA. See 18 U.S.C. § 1596(a) ; William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-457, § 223(a), 122 Stat. 5044 (2008). This provision, entitled "Additional jurisdiction in certain trafficking offenses," provides:

(a) In general.—In addition to any domestic or extra-territorial jurisdiction otherwise provided by law, the courts of the United States have extra-territorial jurisdiction over any offense (or any attempt or conspiracy to commit an offense) under section 1581, 1583, 1584, 1589, 1590, or 1591 if—
(1) an alleged offender is a national of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence (as those terms are defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act ( 8 U.S.C. 1101 )); or
(2) an alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the alleged offender.

18 U.S.C. § 1596(a). As a result of the 2008 amendments, the TVPRA now extends extraterritorial application to violations of § 1581 (peonage), § 1583 (enticement into slavery), § 1584 (sale into involuntary servitude), § 1589 (forced labor), § 1590 (trafficking), and § 1591 (sex trafficking of children), but only if the alleged offender is a United States citizen, a lawful permanent resident, or is present in the United States. See id.

B

In their complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that they were the victims of peonage, forced labor, involuntary servitude, and human trafficking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1581, 1584, 1589, 1590, 1592, and 1593A, and they sought damages under § 1595, the civil remedy provision of the TVPRA. Plaintiffs further alleged that Defendants-Appellees Phatthana Seafood Co., Ltd. ("Phatthana") and S.S. Frozen Food Co., Ltd. ("S.S. Frozen") perpetrated these offenses, and that Defendants-Appellees Rubicon Resources, LLC ("Rubicon") and Wales & Co. Universe Ltd. ("Wales") knowingly benefitted from Phatthana's and S.S. Frozen's unlawful conduct.

Specifically, Plaintiffs say that they were recruited from their villages to work in factories in Thailand producing shrimp and seafood for export to the United States. Plaintiffs were promised well-paying jobs with free accommodations, but once in Thailand, they became victims of peonage, forced labor, and involuntary servitude. Plaintiffs were paid less than promised, charged for accommodations, charged for other unexpected expenses, unable to leave without their passports, which they were told would not be returned until "recruitment fee[s]" and other amounts were paid, and subjected to harsh conditions. Plaintiffs asserted that these abuses occurred from sometime in 2010 until October 2012. Phatthana's seafood processing factory in Songkhla province, where...

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