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Oluoch v. Orina

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 31, 2015

BEATRICE A. OLUOCH, Plaintiff,
v.
STELLA KERUBO ORINA, Defendant

Page 326

For Beatrice A. Oluoch, Plaintiff: Amy L. Rudd, PRO HAC VICE, Dechert LLP, Austin, TX; Joshua Yi, PRO HAC VICE, Dechert LLP (TX), Austin, TX; Lindsey Beth Cohan, Dechert LLP (TX), Austin, TX.

For Stella Kerubo Orina, Defendant: Aaron David Paul Shapiro, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Shapiro Law Firm, LLC, New York, NY.

OPINION

Page 327

Thomas P. Griesa, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Beatrice A. Oluoch claims that former Kenyan diplomat, defendant Stella Kerubo Orina, violated federal human trafficking law and state labor law by forcing her to work around-the-clock as a domestic servant for the meager salary of $150 per month. Defendant moves to dismiss six of the eight claims as time-barred. For the following reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss is denied with regard to plaintiff's federal law claims, but granted with regard to plaintiff's state law claims.

The Complaint

In 2004, defendant hired plaintiff as a domestic servant in her home in Kenya. Comp. ¶ 7. Defendant gave birth to two children, and plaintiff shifted from housekeeper to nanny. Compl. ¶ 7. In 2006, defendant accepted employment in the United States as a diplomat for the Kenyan Mission to the United Nations. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant asked plaintiff to accompany her and her family to the United States as a nanny. Compl. ¶ 9. To work in the United States, plaintiff applied for an A-3 visa, which is a nonimmigrant diplomatic visa granted to the servants of foreign government representatives. Compl. ¶ 31. To obtain an A-3 visa for plaintiff, defendant certified that plaintiff would receive a fair wage in the United States. Compl. ¶ 9.

Defendant kept two residences between 2006 and 2007. Plaintiff worked at the first residence, in Bethesda Maryland, from July 10, 2006 until May 31, 2007. Compl. ¶ 12. The parties signed a contract providing that plaintiff would be compensated $8.00 per hour, overtime wages, and room and board. Compl. ¶ 9, 12. Plaintiff worked at the second residence, in Fresh Meadows, New York, from May 31, 2007 until September 4, 2007. Compl. ¶ 12. For her work at the second residence, the parties agreed that plaintiff would be compensated $9.96 per hour, overtime wages, and room and board. Compl. ¶ 10.

Despite her understanding that she had been hired as a nanny to plaintiff's children, plaintiff was required to perform all

Page 328

the household duties. Compl. ¶ 13. Plaintiff worked approximately 13 hours per day, seven days a week. Compl. ¶ 13. She also remained " on call" each night when the children awoke. Compl. ¶ 14. Notwithstanding the many hours worked, defendant only paid plaintiff $150 per month. Compl. ¶ 14. Defendant often paid plaintiff only $50 per month, sending the remaining $100 to plaintiff's family in Kenya. Compl. ¶ 14.

Soon after plaintiff's arrival in the United States, defendant confiscated her passport and refused to allow her to leave the house unescorted or make unsupervised phone calls. Compl. ¶ ¶ 16--17. However, in August of 2007 defendant gave plaintiff her passport to allow her to accompany defendant's children in visiting their grandmother in Minnesota. Compl. ¶ 20. At this time, plaintiff discovered that her A-3 visa had been cancelled. Compl. ¶ 20. Upon returning to New York, defendant demanded that plaintiff turn over her passport. Compl. ¶ 21. Plaintiff refused. Compl.¶ 21. From then on, defendant conducted frequent searches of plaintiff's room and threatened to kill plaintiff. Compl. ¶ 21. On September 4, 2007, plaintiff escaped from defendant's home " wearing slippers and carrying nothing but her passport and the little money that she had in her possession." Compl. ¶ 23.

In September of 2011, plaintiff was arrested in Maryland while working as a babysitter for a different family. Compl. ¶ 25. Plaintiff discovered that her A-3 visa had actually been cancelled at defendant's behest years earlier. See Compl. ¶ 25. As a result, plaintiff was forced to serve a lengthy probation period. Compl. ¶ 26. In 2011, plaintiff ...


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