United States District Court, D. Idaho
CESAR MARTINEZ-RODRIGUEZ; DALIA PADILLA-LOPEZ; MAYRA MUNOZ-LARA; BRENDA GASTELUM-SIERRA; LESLIE ORTIZ-GARCIA; and RICARDO NERI-CAMACHO, Plaintiffs,
CURTIS GILES, an individual; DAVID FUNK, an individual; FUNK DAIRY, INC., an Idaho corporation; SHOESOLE FARMS, INC., an Idaho corporation, JOHN DOES 1-10, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court.
before the Court is Defendants Curtis Giles, David Funk, Funk
Daily, Inc., and Shoesole Farms, Inc.'s (Collectively
“Defendants” or “Funk Dairy”) Motion
for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 35) and Motion to Strike
Plaintiffs' Expert Disclosure (Dkt. 36).
January 9, 2019, the Court held oral argument and took the
motions under advisement. Upon review, and for the reasons
set forth below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
are six professional veterinarians from Mexico who allege
that Defendants have engaged in a “criminal conspiracy
to bring Mexican nationals to the United States illegally for
the purpose of forced labor.” Dkt. 1 at 1. Based on
these allegations, Plaintiffs assert claims of Forced Labor
and Trafficking into Servitude under the Trafficking Victims
Protection Reauthorization Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 1589,
1590, and 1595), as well as six state law claims under Idaho
speaking, Plaintiffs assert that Defendants conspired to
recruit experienced Mexican veterinarians to work in the
United States under the false pretense that they would be
professional animal scientists, only to be hired as low-wage,
general laborers at Funk Dairy. Id. Plaintiffs
allege that these acts violated U.S. immigration laws. They
also assert that Defendants subjected them to long working
hours under arduous conditions and forced them to stay under
threat of deportation, fear, and unfamiliarity with the
English language and American legal system. Id.
Martinez-Rodriguez, Dalia Padilla-Lopez, Mayra Munoz-Lara,
Brenda Gastellum-Sierra, Leslie Ortiz-Garcia, and Ricardo
Neri-Camacho (collectively “Plaintiffs”) are all
native citizens of Mexico.
Dairy is a commercial dairy operation located near Murtaugh,
Idaho. The owners of the dairy are David Funk and his wife,
who is not individually named as a defendant in this case.
David Funk's son-in-law, Curtis Giles, manages dairy
operations. David Funk and his wife also own and operate an
independent farming operation known as Shoesole Farms. Giles
is not involved with the farming operation. Funk Dairy is an
integrated operation-meaning the dairy performs all aspects
necessary for the production and sale of raw milk. It
impregnates cows and births calves, raises heifer calves,
sells steer calves, cares for sick animals, milks cows, and
performs all other aspects related to a large-scale dairy
Fall of 2014, Funk Dairy began recruiting skilled labor from
Mexico, specifically intending to obtain workers that
qualified for the North American Free Trade Agreement
(“NAFTA”) Visa program-specifically the
“TN”, or “Trade”, Visa.
time, Plaintiffs all had 4-year college degrees and were each
licensed as animal scientists or veterinary scientists in
Mexico. Giles personally attended Plaintiffs'
universities, presented on the employment opportunity at Funk
Dairy, interviewed each Plaintiff, made each Plaintiff a job
offer (which each accepted), and then put each Plaintiff in
touch with legal counsel in order to secure their TN Visas.
securing employment, it was Plaintiffs' understanding
that they would be receiving: $10 per hour (with the
opportunity for raises) for working approximately 10-12 hours
per day, 6 days a week; a $2, 000 bonus after one year of
service; six days of paid vacation after one year of service;
initial help with housing and transportation; and that their
employment would last for three years. The terms of
employment were never reduced to a signed writing.
Dairy put each Plaintiff in touch with legal counsel to
assist in obtaining TN Visas. This process involved applying
to, and subsequently being interview by, the U.S. Department
of State. As part of this process, Funk Dairy made certain
representations to the U.S. Department of State regarding the
nature of the employment and the kind of work that each
Plaintiff would perform so the government could determine
whether each Plaintiff qualified for the NAFTA TN Visa
program. Plaintiffs allege that Funk Dairy's legal
counsel specifically instructed them not to say that they
would be milking cows.
arrival at Funk Dairy, Plaintiffs contend that Defendants
tasked them with menial, unskilled farm duties, despite their
understanding that they would be animal scientists.
Additionally, Plaintiffs assert that Defendants monitored
their movements and communications, charged them for things
such as rent and transportation, reduced their income
arbitrarily, and generally failed to abide by the agreed upon
terms of their employment. Ultimately, three Plaintiffs quit,
and Funk Dairy terminated three Plaintiffs.
filed their original Complaint on January 1, 2017. In their
Complaint, Plaintiffs alleged various causes of action
against the present Defendants, but also against Jeremy
Pittard. Pittard is the attorney who each Plaintiff met with
prior to their interview with the U.S. Department of State.
On February 28, 2018, Pittard filed a Motion to Dismiss. Dkt.
13. The Court ultimately granted Pittard's Motion (Dkt.
23), but gave Plaintiffs an opportunity to amend their
Complaint in order to cure deficiencies outlined in the
Court's Decision. Plaintiffs elected not to file an
Amended Complaint that included additional allegations or
facts against Pittard, but submitted an Amended Complaint
nonetheless. See Dkt. 24.
completion of fact and expert discovery, Defendants filed the
two Motions currently pending: A Motion for Summary Judgment,
and a Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Expert Disclosures.
judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). The Court's role at summary judgment is not
“to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Zetwick v. Cty. of Yolo, 850 F.3d 436,
441 (9th Cir. 2017) (citation omitted). In considering a
motion for summary judgment, the Court must “view the
facts in the non-moving party's favor.”
defeat a motion for summary judgment, the respondent need
only present evidence upon which “a reasonable juror
drawing all inferences in favor of the respondent could
return a verdict in [his or her] favor.” Id.
the Court must enter summary judgment if a party “fails
to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
The respondent cannot simply rely on an unsworn affidavit or
the pleadings to defeat a motion for summary judgment; rather
the respondent must set forth the “specific facts,
” supported by evidence, with “reasonable
particularity” that precludes summary judgment. Far
Out Productions, Inc. v. Oskar, 247 F.3d 986, 997 (9th
case, Plaintiffs allege numerous federal and state law causes
of action against Defendants. The crux of this case, however,
centers around the provisions of the Trafficking Victims
Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”) (18
U.S.C. § 1581 et. sec.). Plaintiffs claim that
Defendants specifically violated two provisions of the Act:
the forced labor provision (18 U.S.C. § 1589) and the
trafficking into servitude provision (18 U.S.C. § 1590).
forced labor provision of 18 U.S.C. § 1589 provides, in
relevant part, as follows:
(a) Whoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or
services of a person by any one of, or by any combination of,
the following means-
(1) by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint,
or threats of physical restraint to that person or another
(2) by means of serious harm or threats of serious harm to
that person or another person;
(3) by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal
(4) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to
cause the person to believe that, if that person did not
perform such labor or services, that person or another person
would suffer serious harm or physical restraint, shall be
punished as provided under subsection (d).
. . .
(c) In this section:
(1) The term “abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal
process” means the use or threatened use of a law or
legal process, whether administrative, civil, or criminal, in
any manner or for any purpose for which the law was not
designed, in order to exert pressure on another person to
cause that person to take some action or refrain from taking
(2) The term “serious harm” means any harm,
whether physical or nonphysical, including psychological,
financial, or reputational harm, that is sufficiently
serious, under all the surrounding circumstances, to compel a
reasonable person of the same background and in the same
circumstances to perform or ...