The Human Trafficking Legal Center's board of directors recently named
McGuireWoods “Litigation Firm of the Year” for its pro bono work securing
the largest known single-plaintiff trafficking award in U.S. history. The
firm was honored during the center’s second annual On My Side Awards
reception in Washington, D.C.
A McGuireWoods team led by Washington associate
helped trafficking survivor Kendra Ross win an
$8 million judgment in a federal lawsuit against a Kansas City-based “regimented cult” and the
group’s leader, who forced Ross to work without pay, benefits or breaks
from the age of 11 until her escape a decade later.
Ross alleged in her complaint 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
2012. She escaped UNOI at the age of 21. On May 23, 2018, U.S. District
Judge Daniel D. Crabtree granted Ross’ motion for default judgment and
awarded her nearly $8 million in damages, plus costs and attorney’s fees.
On Nov. 2, Judge Crabtree granted the plaintiff’s request to issue a bench
warrant for Jenkins’ arrest for his continued contempt for court orders
related to efforts to satisfy the judgment for Ross.
Working with Hutson on the McGuireWoods legal team were partners
Jonathan Blank and
Phillip Chang; associates
Lauren Cafferty Mahaffey,
Kayla Marshall and
Katlyn Davis Farrell; international attorney
Andrew Thornton-Dibb; and counsel
“It’s been a real privilege to represent Kendra in obtaining a measure of
justice for the horrific treatment she endured,” said Hutson, who met Ross
at a specialized aftercare shelter for trafficking victims. “It is an honor
to be recognized by The Human Trafficking Legal Center, which is doing
important work to help trafficking survivors access legal aid and reclaim
The Human Trafficking Legal Center
is a nonprofit organization that assists survivors of labor and sex
trafficking in seeking justice. Led by founder and president Martina
Vandenberg, the center seeks to hold traffickers accountable and deter
exploitation by obtaining criminal convictions, criminal restitution and
civil judgments. It also provides legal training for partner organizations
and tracks federal criminal and civil cases throughout the country.