Legal News

Federal Appeals Court Says White Restaurant Owner Who’Enslaved’ Intellectually Present Black Man Owes Dual the Damages Originally Imposed

A federal appeals court ruled by a French restaurant proprietor who forced an intellectually handicapped Black man into slave labour owes over $500,000 in restitution, double the sum originally levied by a decrease district court.
Bobby Paul Edwards, 56, pleaded guilty to a count of forced labour, has been sentenced in 2019 to a decade in prison and ordered to pay restitution of about $273,000. That amount represented outstanding minimum wages and overtime compensation owed to 43-year-old John Christopher Smith (known in the judgment as”Jack”), who Edwards”effectively enslaved” by forcing him to operate at J&J Cafeteria in South Carolina”over 100 hours per week without pay” for over five years.
However a three-judge panel to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit late last month unanimously ruled that the district court erred in only ordering the repayment of wages without including”an additional equivalent sum” in the kind of liquidated damages. The Circuit Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case back down into the lower court for recalculation of twice the first restitution ordered, roughly $546,000.
As mentioned previously by Law&Crime, Edwards left Smith’s life a living hell later getting over the restaurant in 2009. Once Edwards arrived, he ceased paying Smith, who beginning working at J&J part-time in 1990 at age 12 and has an intellectual disability as well as an IQ of about 70. Edwards bullied Smith with”abusive language, racial epithets, threats, and acts of violence,” according to then-Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. He struck him. He struck him pots and pans. He burned his throat with hot tongs that was dipped in grease.
This physical abuse was supposed to punish Smith for errors or to make him perform faster, prosecutors said, and it continued until police obtained a complaint from Geneane Caines, whose daughter-in-law functioned at J&J. Adult Protective Services stepped in to aid in October 2014.
“I felt like I had been in prison. The majority of the time that I felt dangerous, such as Bobby would kill me if he wanted,” Smith said of his living conditions under Edwards. “I wished to get out of that area so bad but couldn’t think about how I might without being hurt”
The court reasoned that, under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), the failure to pay an employee minimum wage and overtime in real-time means that employee doesn’t just lose out on the owed wages, but also suffers”the loss of using the cash through the period of delay”
“So fully compensating the employee requires accounting for losses in the delay. These additional losses could, in part, be compensated by curiosity,” Circuit Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote for the court. “Indeed, it would be inconsistent with the TVPA’s necessity of providing restitution in’the full amount of the victim’s losses’ not to compensate a victim for losses incurred as a result of the delay in paying mandatory wages and overtime payment. And neglecting to compensate for delay would be especially egregious in this situation, where Jack wasn’t paid for several years.”
Read the full judgment below.
4th Circuit Bobby Paul Edward Ruling by Law&Crime on Scribd
[image via J. Reuben Long Detention Center]
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