Topeka, Kan. - The Washburn Law Clinic, in collaboration with McGuireWoods LLP, helped secure an $8 million judgment on behalf of a survivor of human trafficking last week. The award comes after a federal judge in Kansas City found that the plaintiff, Kendra Ross, had been made to work over 40,000 uncompensated hours by a “regimented cult” from 2002 to 2012. The judgment is one of the largest single-plaintiff trafficking awards in American history.
On May 23, 2018, U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree found that Royall Jenkins and his group, The Value Creators (formerly UNOI), moved Ross around the country and “forced her to perform childcare, cooking, and cleaning services without pay for most of her childhood.” Ross was subjected to degrading and humiliating treatment, became severely malnourished, and was denied medical care and education. Ross, who joined the group as a child, escaped at the age of 21 and sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Washburn Law Clinic Professor Gillian Chadwick, along with law student Connor Goodman, have worked on Ross’s legal team since last September. In February, Chadwick and Goodman joined Ross and a team of lawyers from McGuireWoods led by Elizabeth Hutson at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. Chadwick said she was pleased to be “cultivating a powerful learning experience for students.”
“The decision is, of course, a huge validation for our incredibly courageous client, but it’s also an important contribution to the developing body of human trafficking case law,” said Chadwick. “We are very pleased with the decisive, thoughtful, and thorough opinion issued by Judge Crabtree this week, which will help human trafficking survivors seeking justice in Kansas and in federal courts across the country.”
Following the judge’s ruling, Ross shared her appreciation: “I’m grateful for all of the support I’ve gotten over the past few years and very appreciative of the hard work my lawyers and team have done. Mostly, I’m very happy that justice has been served and that Royall, UNOI, and The Value Creators are exposed. Although this legal win doesn’t change anything that has happened in the past, it makes me feel like some justice has been served. I’ll always live with the memories of what’s been done to me. To all of the members who are still a part of The Value Creators, and those who have left, it is not too late to get out, to be free and get help, justice and closure.”
McGuireWoods, a leading international law firm with more than 1,100 lawyers in 23 offices worldwide, represented Ross pro bono. The firm issued a news release regarding the victory.
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