Civil Practice Clinic Wins Key Motion in Servitude Case
The Law School’s Robins Kaplan Civil Practice Clinic, in collaboration with Minneapolis attorney David Wilson and Wilson Law Group, has won a motion for partial summary judgment in a case that hinges on the issue of whether a sponsoring relative owes an ongoing duty of support to a family that the sponsoring relative brought to the United States.
The clinic’s clients, a family with children, came to the U.S. in 2010 from India under the sponsorship of relatives who owned a hotel in Caledonia, Minn. They were made to work in the hotel without pay for nearly two years, at which point Houston County Social Services personnel helped them escape.
On March 16, District Court Judge James A. Fabian ruled that, since the hotel owners had signed what are known as I-864 and I-864A affidavits of support in bringing their relatives to the U.S., they had entered into a contract with the U.S. government—a contract that compelled them to provide ongoing support for the immigrating family members at 125% of federal poverty guidelines. The hotel owners will be required to pay this support going forward, as well as an arrearage amount to be determined. Other issues between the parties will be addressed in a trial that begins on April 20.
“This decision by Judge Fabian lays the groundwork for our clients to economically survive in America without resorting to additional public assistance,” said Professor Laura Thomas, who teaches the Civil Practice Clinic. “I’d like to congratulate our student attorneys, past and present, who put hundreds of hours of work into the case.”
“It has been an ongoing pleasure to work with clinic litigators on this case,” said David Wilson. “It seems we cover a semester of learning in one weekly meeting.”
Those working on the case include Ryan Bravo (’15), Andrew LeTourneau (’15), Adam Fitzpatrick (’14), Jean Paul Agustin (’14), Laura Populin (’13), and Chris Schmitter (’13), as well as Wilson Law Group associates Brittany Bakken (’13) and Jaclyn Campoli (’14).