Cases & Deals

Fourth Circuit overturns district court, allowing victim of trafficking to pursue civil remedies against defendant diplomats

Client(s) Senator Marco Rubio

Appellant Cristina Fernandez Cruz came to the United States from the Philippines to work for World Bank employees as a nanny, full of hope that she would be able to provide a better life for her elderly parents and chronically ill daughter. Within hours of landing in Virginia, the Appellees destroyed those dreams, as they forced her into modern-day slavery. The Appellees immediately confiscated Ms. Cruz's passport, subjected her to threats and psychological abuse, and forced her to work long days and nights. They also ensured that Ms. Cruz never learned that this treatment violated countless federal and state laws by isolating her in their Virginia homes, where she had no transportation, where her communications were monitored, and where she had few opportunities to improve her limited English. After nearly six years of this horror, Ms. Cruz managed to contact someone who could help her escape.

Ms. Cruz brought an action under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act ("TVPA")—"a comprehensive, victim-centered statute" intended "to eradicate modern-day slavery in all of its forms and restore the rights and dignity of victims." U.S. Dep't of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Report on the Tenth Anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act 4 (Oct. 29, 2010). That statute provides a civil action for individuals like Ms. Cruz who are brought to the United States and compelled to work through threats of physical restraint or manipulations of the legal system.

Though the District Court held that Ms. Cruz's TVPA action was untimely, the Fourth Circuit reversed in a case supported by Senator Marco Rubio, as amicus curiae. Senator Rubio emphasized that the legislative history of the TVPA indicated that helping victims like Ms. Cruz was precisely Congress's goal in enacting and updating the TVPA.

Cruz v. Maypa, No. 13-2363 (4th Cir.)