Jury Rejects Claims of Human Trafficking

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Federal Jury completely rejected the claims asserted by a group of H-1B (temporary work visa) Filipino Teachers against Universal Placement International.

In an expected and anticipated ruling, the members of the Federal Jury completely rejected the claims asserted by a group of H-1B Filipino Teachers (Civ. no. 10-01172-jak-mlg, Central District of California). According to the case, starting in 2007, Philippine nationals were recruited by Louisiana School Districts to teach in post Katrina New Orleans area. Universal Placement and Lourdes Navarro worked with several Louisiana Parishes to place approximately 350 teachers. These teachers, all classified as Highly Specialized under the No Child Left Behind Act filled needed Math, Sciences and Special Education classrooms. In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center in conjunction with the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Law Firm of Covington and Burling filed a Federal Class Action lawsuit against various individuals and entities, including East Baton Rouge School District, Universal Placement International and Lourdes Navarro. At the heart of the claims were civil allegations of Human Trafficking and Fraud conspiracies.

In a resounding defeat, the Federal Jury rejected all claims of Human Trafficking and Fraud conspiracy. These claims had already been rejected for criminal prosecution. "The entire action was a textbook illustration of character assassination and outlandish allegations for the sole purpose of publicity," says, Lourdes Navarro. Navarro added, "I brought teachers here to provide them with a better life. For a reasonable fee, they were provided with a wide variety of services including a job earning upwards of $50,000. All individuals were brought here legally. To date, some teachers have earned over $250,000."

"This was always political by SPLC and these other non-profit groups. The facts were always clear that there was never any case of Human Trafficking. While many Americans lost their jobs during the worst recession, these individuals continued to have a job, enjoy the benefits of America and then sought to exploit the benefits that they were given. In the Philippines they earned so little. Here they have cars, apartments, several have purchased houses, they send money home to their family, travel around the United States and travel to and from the Philippines. I am so glad and happy that the Jury saw through these false accusations and fraudulent claims," said Lourdes Navarro.

According to court documents, on December 17, 2012 the Jury made no determination that either Universal Placement or Navarro acted with any intent, malice, fraud or ill will towards these teachers. Universal and Navarro will be evaluating their legal rights including the filing of an Appeal. The bottom line is that none of the teachers recruited from the Philippines were mistreated or placed into any type of servitude. All individuals were treated with respect and decency. "This is a complete and total vindication for me," said Navarro.

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Jack Navarro

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