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Deals & Cases

Jones Day prevails on behalf of victim of human trafficking

August 2017


On July 31, 2017, a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia found in favor of Jones Day pro bono client Sarah Roe (a pseudonym) and awarded her $3 million dollars in compensatory and punitive damages on her claims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act ("TVPA"). The jury found that Linda Howard, a former U.S. State Department employee, had violated the TVPA's prohibitions on forced labor, forced labor trafficking, and commercial sex trafficking and that she had conspired to commit these offenses, all while she and her husband, Russell Howard, were posted at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. Sarah, a young Ethiopian woman, had alleged that, during the six-month period in 2007 when she worked in the Howards' home as a live-in housekeeper, she was repeatedly abused --- sexually, psychologically, and physically -- and told that this was part of her job.

"We are happy about the jury's verdict and are extraordinarily proud to stand by and behind a brave woman like Sarah, who had the courage to confront her trafficker," said Melissa Lim Patterson, an associate in Jones Day's Washington, D.C. Office who served as lead counsel at trial. "That the jury heard Sarah and believed her will go a long way in helping Sarah to heal."

Alison Marshall, one of the supervising partners on Sarah’s case, and cochair of the Firm’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force stated, "The jury sent a strong, clear message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated. We are grateful for the chance to help Sarah have her voice heard, and we will continue to work tirelessly on her behalf to uphold the jury's verdict. No one should have to experience what she did."

The Washington based Jones Day team advising Ms. Roe was led by Ms. Patterson, and included Andres Salinas (both associates). The matter was supervised by Jones Day partners Carter DeLorme, Ms. Marshall, and Chris Vergonis.

Jones Day is a global law firm with more than 2,500 lawyers in 43 offices across five continents. The Firm is distinguished by: a singular tradition of client service; the mutual commitment to, and the seamless collaboration of, a true partnership; formidable legal talent across multiple disciplines and jurisdictions; and shared professional values that focus on client needs.