Ross v. Jenkins

Citation325 F.Supp.3d 1141
Decision Date23 May 2018
Docket NumberCase No. 17–2547–DDC–TJJ
Parties Kendra ROSS, Plaintiff, v. Royall JENKINS, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Kansas

Elizabeth A. Hutson, Phillip C. Chang, Pro Hac Vice, McGuireWoods, LLP, Washington, DC, Jonathan T. Blank, Pro Hac Vice, McGuireWoods, LLP, Charlottesville, VA, Gillian Chadwick, Washburn University School of Law, Topeka, KS, for Plaintiff.

Royall Jenkins, Kansas City, pro se.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Daniel D. Crabtree, United States District Judge

Plaintiff Kendra Ross seeks default judgment against defendants Royall Jenkins, The Value Creators, Inc. (f/k/a The United Nation of Islam, Inc.), The Value Creators LLC, and The Value Creators, Inc. Doc. 23. The court held a hearing on plaintiff's motion on February 2, 2018. Plaintiff testified at the hearing and presented other evidence. Plaintiff's licensed clinical social worker also testified at the hearing. Plaintiff asked the court to enter a default judgment against defendants on all her claims. Plaintiff also made a damages request at the hearing, asking the court to award her damages for restitution, emotional distress, punitive damages, liquidated damages, treble damages under RICO, and damages for conversion. Finally, plaintiff asked for reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. Doc. 34.

After carefully considering the evidence adduced at the February 2, 2018 hearing and plaintiff's submissions, the court grants plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment (Doc. 23) against all defendants and her Motion for Attorneys' Fees (Doc. 34). The court awards plaintiff $453,517.20 in restitution damages, $2,920,000 in emotional distress damages, $3,373,517.20 in punitive damages, $282,677.50 as liquidated damages, $907,034.40 for trebled damages under RICO, and $1,800 as conversion damages. The court also awards plaintiff $117,184.34 for reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.

I. Procedural Background

On September 15, 2017, plaintiff Kendra Ross filed a Complaint against Royall Jenkins, The Value Creators, Inc. (f/k/a The United Nation of Islam, Inc.), The Value Creators LLC, and The Value Creators, Inc. Doc. 1. The Complaint asserts 161 federal and state law claims. The federal claims include violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act ("TVPRA"), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1589, 1590, and 1595, for human trafficking and forced labor; the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. , for unpaid wages; and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1961. The state law claims consist of three categories: (1) violations of human trafficking laws; (2) violations of minimum wage laws; and (3) violations of Kansas tort and quasi-contract law. Plaintiff asserts that defendants violated Kansas, New York, New Jersey, and Ohio human trafficking laws. Plaintiff also claims that defendants violated minimum wages laws for those same states. Finally, plaintiff alleges that plaintiff violated Kansas laws for conversion, unjust enrichment, and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Plaintiff served the Complaint on defendant Royall Jenkins on September 21 and 25, 2017. See Docs. 9 & 10. Plaintiff served the Complaint on defendants The Value Creators, Inc. (f/k/a The United Nation of Islam, Inc.), The Value Creators LLC, and The Value Creators, Inc. (collectively, "The Value Creators") on September 18 and 20, 2017. See Docs. 11–13, 15–17.

Defendant Royall Jenkins filed a Motion for a Writ of Certiorari on October 11, 2017. Doc. 18. Magistrate Judge Teresa J. James denied defendant's motion, and noted that defendant's motion did not meet the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to qualify as a timely Answer or other response. The other defendants have not appeared.

On October 23, 2017, plaintiff filed an Application for Clerks Entry of Default against all defendants (Doc. 20). The following day, the Clerk entered default against all defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a) (Doc. 22).

Plaintiff now asks the court to enter a default judgment against all defendants under Rule 55(b)(2), awarding her damages and attorneys' fees.

II. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 provides a two-step process for securing a default judgment. First, Rule 55(a) allows the Clerk to enter a default against a party who "has failed to plead or otherwise defend" a lawsuit. Second, after the Clerk enters default, plaintiff may request the Clerk to enter judgment if the amount sought is "a sum certain or a sum that can be made certain by computation." Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(1). But when, as here, a plaintiff's claim is not for a sum certain or a sum made certain by calculation, plaintiff must apply to the court for a default judgment under Rule 55(b)(2). When considering a motion for default judgment, the court may hold a hearing if "it needs to (A) conduct an accounting; (B) determine the amount of damages; (C) establish the truth of any allegation by evidence; or (D) investigate any other matter." Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2).

"Once the default is established, defendant has no further standing to contest the factual allegations of plaintiff's claim for relief." Mathiason v. Aquinas Home Health Care, Inc. , 187 F.Supp.3d 1269, 1274 (D. Kan. 2016) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). The court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations in the Complaint. Id. This does not extend, however, to allegations about the amount of damages. Id.

But, even after default, " 'it remains for the court to consider whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action, since a party in default does not admit mere conclusions of law.' " Bixler v. Foster , 596 F.3d 751, 762 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting 10A Charles A. Wright et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 2688, at 63 (3d ed. 1998) ). When deciding whether to enter a default judgment, a district court enjoys broad discretion. Mathiason , 187 F.Supp.3d at 1274.

A default judgment also does not establish the amount of damages. Id. at 1274–75. Instead, "[p]laintiff must establish that the amount requested is reasonable under the circumstances." Id. at 1275 (citing DeMarsh v. Tornado Innovations, LP , No. 08-2588-JWL, 2009 WL 3720180, at *2 (D. Kan. Nov. 4, 2009) ). A court may award damages " 'only if the record adequately reflects the basis for [the] award via a hearing or a demonstration by detailed affidavits establishing the necessary facts.' " DeMarsh , 2009 WL 3720180, at *2 (quoting Adolph Coors Co. v. Movement Against Racism & the Klan , 777 F.2d 1538, 1544 (11th Cir. 1985) (further citations and internal quotation marks omitted) ).

III. Findings of Fact
A. Defendant Royall Jenkins

Before 1978, Royall Jenkins was a member of the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad. Dr. Louis Farrakhan assumed leadership of the Nation of Islam when Elijah Muhammad died in 1978. Mr. Jenkins asserts that, around the time of Elijah Muhammad's death, angels and/or scientists abducted him, escorted him through the galaxy in a spaceship, and informed him he was "The Supreme Being." During his abduction, Mr. Jenkins asserts, these beings instructed him how to govern Earth.

When he "returned to Earth" in 1978, Mr. Jenkins split from Nation of Islam and informally organized the United Nation of Islam ("UNOI") as a radical alternative to Dr. Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. Since that time, Mr. Jenkins has ordered his UNOI followers to refer to him as "Allah on Earth," "Allah in Person," or "The Supreme Being."

Sometime around 1996, Mr. Jenkins founded "Heaven"—a UNOI model community in an economically-disadvantaged neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas. Mr. Jenkins later established additional UNOI communities in other places across the United States, including: Atlanta, Georgia; Dayton, Ohio; Newark, New Jersey; Harlem, New York; Temple Hills, Maryland; Mobile, Alabama; and Cincinnati, Ohio. The Value Creators now own the personal, real, and intellectual property used by these communities in the nation-wide trafficking scheme at issue in this case.

Mr. Jenkins has a large immediate family scattered around the United States. He has had at least 13 wives, and has fathered about 20 children (collectively, the "Royall Family"). Mr. Jenkins calls some of his wives "concubines." Royall Family members reside in different locations across the United States.

Mr. Jenkins has owned several houses on one street in Kansas City, Kansas, where his wives, children, and grandchildren have resided. Also, Mr. Jenkins has owned a house called the "House of Peace" in Kansas City, Kansas. The "House of Peace" is in a secret location, only accessible by Mr. Jenkins and a few select people.

Mr. Jenkins holds ownership interests in several businesses, including all three business entities collectively referred to as The Value Creators. Mr. Jenkins and the rest of the Royall Family directly have benefitted financially from the revenues of these businesses, in large part because the businesses employ trafficked laborers who are not paid any wages for the work they perform. They also have derived financial benefits from the trafficked laborers who are paid no wages for providing around-the-clock child care and housekeeping work to the Royall Family.

While plaintiff was a member of the UNOI community, Mr. Jenkins was the business and spiritual leader of UNOI and head of the Royall Family. He personally made all the decisions about the trafficked laborers which benefitted UNOI, the Royall Family, and Mr. Jenkins himself.

B. UNOI
1. Organization

UNOI operated as the corporate entity for Mr. Jenkins's cult while trafficking plaintiff. UNOI employed a hierarchical chain of command, starting with Local Secretaries at the bottom; the National Secretary, Officers, Captains, Lieutenants, and the National Lieutenant in the middle; and Mr. Jenkins at the top. Everyone in the chain of command ultimately reported to Mr. Jenkins....

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