CDM provides expert, professional litigation support services and investigative support for private U.S. firms, solo practitioners, government agencies, and non-profit organizations with Mexico-based clients.
CDM assists public interest organizations, solo practitioners, and private law firms in supporting litigation on behalf of workers who have returned to Mexico. CDM has provided legal education and litigation support in rural and urban communities, earning the trust of migrant communities across Mexico. Select cases CDM has helped develop include: Lopez Rodriguez v. SGLC Inc., No. 01971 (E.D. Cal. filed Aug. 20, 2008). Olvera-Morales v. Sterling Onions, Inc., 322 F.Supp.2d 211 (N.D.N.Y. Jun 01, 2004) (NO. 02-CV-1589).
Class and Collective Action Outreach
CDM has traveled to dozens of communities in Mexico to alert migrant workers of their right to opt-in to Fair Labor Standards Act collective actions. CDM has publicized opt-in opportunities using Mexican media (print news and radio), hosting town and house meetings, and working with local Mexican government officials.
Cases include: Rosiles-Perez v. Superior Forestry Service, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 332 (M.D.Tenn. Mar 28, 2008); Perez-Benites v. Candy Brand, LLC, 2008 WL 4809105 (W.D.Ark. Oct 31, 2008) (NO. 07-CV-1048).
CDM assists U.S. advocates in complying with discovery requirements when their clients have returned to Mexico. CDM can track down clients to answer interrogatories and appear at depositions. Managing the discovery process transnationally can be difficult both logistically and legally. CDM’s presence in Mexico permits CDM to arrange depositions by video conference or take depositions in Mexico, prepare clients for depositions, and appear with clients at depositions. CDM has tracked down witnesses and facilitated acquisition of visas for trial witnesses. CDM has also assisted U.S.-based advocates in obtaining official Mexican records (e.g. birth/marriage certificates and medical records).
Cases CDM has supported include: Rivera, et al. v. Brickman Group, 2:05-CV-01518-LP (E.D. Pen); Lemus Guerrero v. Brickman Group, LLC., 2007 WL 922420, (W.D. Mich. Mar 26, 2007); Herrera v. Ag-Mart Produce, Inc., Circuit Court of Hillsborough County, Florida, Case No. 06-001725, Division B.
Transnational Settlement Distribution
CDM has developed a transnational settlement distribution mechanism through an innovative partnership with Mexico’s Banco del Ahorro Nacional y Servicios Financieros (BANSEFI). The BANSEFI-CDM settlement distribution method provides transfers to Mexico from U.S. attorney trust accounts at the lowest possible cost to ensure that migrants can easily and safely receive their settlement monies from U.S. lawsuits in Mexican pesos. With BANSEFI branches throughout Mexico and partner branches in rural communities, the BANSEFI-CDM method meets the needs of migrants across Mexico, regardless of the community in which they live. CDM has assisted large and small U.S. law firms and non-profits to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlement monies to Mexican-based clients.
Litigation Support and Settlement Administration
CDM provides litigation support and settlement administration support to government agencies, non-profit organizations and private law firms whose clients or witnesses have returned to Mexico. These services include on-the-ground investigations where we locate and interview witnesses in Mexico, draft declarations, review documents and evaluate potential claims; facilitation of cross-border testimony and written discovery; and administration of judgment and settlement fund distributions. Illustrative cases that CDM has supported include:
Rivera v. Peri & Sons Farms, Inc., 735 F.3d 892 (9th Cir. 2013). CDM assisted class counsel at Chicago-based Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. with distribution of $2.8 million in settlement funds to more than 1,000 H-2A agricultural workers from Mexico who suffered pervasive wage theft during their employment with a Nevada-based onion grower.
Teoba v. TruGreen Landcare, L.L.C., No. 6:10-cv-06132 (W.D.N.Y., filed Mar. 15, 2010). CDM provided litigation support to attorneys Edward Tuddenham and Dan Getman (of Getman & Sweeney, PLLC), in this class action on behalf of H-2B employees of U.S. landscaping giant TruGreen Landcare, LLC for violations of state and federal minimum wage laws stemming from the company’s failure to reimburse visa and travel expenses. After the case settled for more than $1.2 million USD in April 2014, CDM led extensive outreach efforts in Mexico and the United States to distribute settlement notices and claim forms to hundreds of class members. CDM assisted hundreds of former TruGreen workers submit claims valued at more than $700,000 USD and facilitated the disbursement of settlement payments totalling nearly $400,000 to approximately 300 workers in Mexico.
Dreamland Amusements, Inc., NY OAG Investigation & Settlement, AOD No. 09- 132 (2008-2009). Working with a former H-2B worker and member of CDM’s Comité de Defensa del Migrante (Migrant Defense Committee), we facilitated a wage theft complaint to the New York Attorney General against New York-based carnival company Dreamland Amusements, Inc. Our participation in this case led to a state investigation resulting in a 2009 settlement requiring payment of $325,000 USD in back wages to H-2B workers. CDM’s litigation support team helped the New York Attorney General distribute more than $100,000 in settlement funds to 22 Mexico-based former H-2B workers.
CDM engages in strategic litigation in U.S. state and federal courts to advance the workplace and civil rights of migrant workers who are in the United States or have returned to Mexico. Our court victories have established important precedents to protect low-wage workers’ rights:
Rivera v. Brickman Group, Ltd., No. 05- 1518, 2008 WL 81570, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1167 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 7, 2008). Together with attorney Edward Tuddenham and Friends of Farmworkers, CDM represented hundreds of former H-2B employees of one of the largest landscapers in the United States in federal wage litigation. In a groundbreaking order, the court held that H-2B employers must reimburse workers for recruitment, visa, and transportation fees that reduce wages below the federal minimum wage.
Doe v. Butler Amusements, Inc., No. 13-cv-03027-JCS (N.D. Cal., filed July 1, 2013). CDM and co-counsel Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center (now known as Legal Aid at Work) represented H-2B carnival workers whose employer charged them illegal recruitment fees and stole their wages in violation of federal and California law. The court granted a critical order allowing the workers to pursue their claims anonymously to protect them from blacklisting and other forms of retaliation.
Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA) v. Perez, 774 F.3d 173 (3d Cir. 2014). In collaboration with a coalition of U.S. workers and their advocates, CDM represented the only guestworker plaintiff to challenge the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2009 H-2B regulations. In 2014, the plaintiffs won a landmark ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The decision resulted in a significant increase in migrant workers’ wages by prohibiting the use of biased employer surveys to determine the prevailing wage owed to H-2B workers. CDM achieved this momentous victory alongside a dedicated coalition of co-counsel including Friends of Farmworkers, North Carolina Justice Center, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project, Southern Poverty Law Center, and attorney Edward Tuddenham, who argued the case on appeal.
Rodriguez v. RCO Reforesting, Inc., No. 2:16-cv-2523 WBS DMC, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12597 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 24, 2019). In this wage litigation in federal court in California, CDM and co-counsel California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. represented hundreds of H-2B forestry workers alleging violations of federal and California state wage laws. The workers were required to work without required minimum and overtime wages and were forced to pay prohibited travel, visa and equipment costs. The court approved a $500,000 settlement in January 2019.
For information about CDM’s legal and litigation support services, contact Legal Director Ben Botts at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call toll-free at 01-800-590-1773 from Mexico or 1-855-234-9699 from the U.S.
A brochure describing our investigatory, litigation support and settlement administration work is available here.