National media organizations noted McGuireWoods’ role in securing one of the largest single-plaintiff human trafficking awards in American history. Washington associate Elizabeth Hutson led a team representing trafficking survivor Kendra Ross in her lawsuit against a “regimented cult” and the group’s leader, who had forced Ross to work without pay, benefits or breaks for a decade from the time she was 11. In a May 23 ruling, a federal judge in Kansas awarded Ross nearly $8 million in damages.
The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Kansas City Star and The Daily Caller interviewed Hutson about the case.
“This has been a really long process,” Hutson told AP. “It is a result of a lot of years of hard work. We see that she has made incredible progress, coming out of this cult and facing her perpetrators.”
Ross alleged in her lawsuit that The Value Creators Inc., formerly known as The United Nation of Islam (UNOI), and its leader, Royall Jenkins, forced her to work more than 40,000 uncompensated hours from 2002 until her 2012 escape from the cult. Jenkins profited from unpaid, trafficked laborers who worked around-the-clock at UNOI businesses and for his family enterprises.
Ross testified in February that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, nightmares and anxiety as a result of her ordeal, The Post reported. “They stripped her of 19 years of her life, forced her to work for no pay, and subjected her to just inhumane conditions,” Hutson told The Post.