Legal News

Federal Appeals Court Says White Restaurant Owner Who’s’Enslaved’ Intellectually Disabled Black Man Owes Double the Damages Initially Imposed

A federal appeals court ruled by a wWhite restaurant owner who pressured an intellectually handicapped Black man into slave labor 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 labor, was sentenced by 2019 to 10 years in prison and arranged with pay restitution of approximately $273,000. That amount represented unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation owed John Christopher Smith (known in the judgment as”Jack”), that Edwards”effectively enslaved” by forcing him to work at J&J Cafeteria in South Carolina”over 100 hours a week without pay” for over five decades.
However a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overdue month unanimously ruled that the district court erred in only ordering the repayment of salary without including”an additional equal sum” in the form of liquidated damages. The Circuit Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case back down into the lower court for recalculation of double the initial restitution arranged, or $546,000.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Edwards left Smith’s own life a living hell after taking over the restaurant in 2009. After Edwards arrived he stopped paying Smith, who starting functioning at J&J part-time in 1990 at age 12 and has an intellectual impairment as well as an IQ of around 70. Edwards savagely bullied Smith with”abusive language, racial epithets, threats, and acts of violence,” according to then-Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. He punched him. He struck him pots and pans. He burned his throat with sexy tongs which was dipped in dirt.
This mechanical abuse was supposed to punish Smith for errors or to make him work faster, prosecutors said, and it lasted until police obtained a complaint from Geneane Caines, whose daughter-in-law functioned in J&J, along with Adult Protective Services stepped in to assist in October 2014.
“I felt like I had been in jail. The majority of the time I felt dangerous, such as Bobby could kill me when he desired,” Smith said of his dwelling circumstances under Edwards. “I wished to get out of that area so poor but could not consider how I might without being hurt.”
The court reasoned that under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), the inability to pay an employee minimum wage and overtime in real-time means that employee doesn’t just lose out to the owed salary, but also”the reduction of using the money during the period of delay.”
“So fully compensating the employee demands accounting for reductions in the delay. These additional losses can, in part, be paid by curiosity,” Circuit Judge Paul V. Niemeyer wrote for the courtroom.
“Indeed, it would be inconsistent with the TVPA’s requirement of providing restitution in’the complete amount of the victim’s losses’ to not compensate a victim for losses incurred as a result of the delay in paying mandatory salary and overtime compensation. And failing to compensate for delay could be particularly egregious in this case, where Jack was not compensated for many decades.”
Read the entire judgment below.

[picture via J. Reuben Long Detention Center]
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