O'Melveny Honored by Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking

May 10, 2010


Andrea Rodeschini
O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Sonja Steptoe
O'Melveny & Myers LLP

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA ─ MAY 10, 2010 ─ O’Melveny & Myers LLP and co-counsel Bet Tzedek will be honored with the 2010 Founders Award by The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) at its annual From Slavery to Freedom awards and fundraising gala on Thursday, June 3, 2010, at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. 


Given to individuals/corporations which have made a significant impact in the fight against modern day slavery, the tribute recognizes the work of O’Melveny and Bet Tzedek on behalf of pro bono client Suminarti Sayuti Yusuf in her successful human trafficking litigation.  Yusuf will be on hand to present the award to the Firm and Bet Tzedek Legal Services as “a small way to thank them for gaining justice against my traffickers.  Hopefully other people who may consider enslaving another human being will learn that they will have a big price to pay if they do.”


In the first-ever verdict under California’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act, O’Melveny and Bet Tzedek won a stirring victory for Yusuf, an Indonesian woman who was the victim of human trafficking at the hands of a wealthy Southern California family. A Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded her US$768,000, including US$500,000 in punitive damages. Yusuf had been defrauded into being a domestic servant for a couple who subjected her to extreme verbal abuse, psychological coercion/threats, and inhumane living conditions. Yusuf was assisted by CAST after fleeing her imprisonment and moving to a shelter. The trial verdict, named one of the year’s ten most important by the LA Daily Journal, resulted in a well-publicized message that the full weight of authority under the new statute would be brought to bear in order to achieve justice for the oppressed. 


The Los Angeles-based O'Melveny team was led by partner Paul McNamara, and included counsel Bob Nicksin, associates Timothy Caballero and Jennifer Cheng, and paralegal Angelina Stone.


Kay Buck, Executive Director of CAST, stated that “although there were many this year who partnered with CAST in the fight against modern day slavery, the CAST Board decided to present the Founders Award to  Bet Tzedek and O’Melveny & Myers for their outstanding pro bono work on the largest civil suit settlement against a trafficker – a suit which proved successful thanks to the California’s State legislation on human trafficking and one which set groundbreaking precedent by using the State Statute for the first time.”


"On behalf of O’Melveny & Myers, we thank CAST and Bet Tzedek for the opportunity to make a difference and contribute to defeating human trafficking here and elsewhere," said Paul McNamara, the lead O'Melveny lawyer on the pro bono team.  "It is astonishing to learn that even today in Los Angeles, and nationwide, individuals will oppress others and subject them to human trafficking and slavery. No person should have to suffer as Suminarti Yusuf did, and we are heartened that our efforts helped the jury in their groundbreaking decision to apply the California anti-trafficking statute to a domestic worker case and award Suminarti the justice she deserves."


About the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)

CAST, the leading organization working with and for trafficking victims and survivors in the Los Angeles area, was established in the aftermath of the 1995 El Monte sweatshop case, which involved 72 Thai garment workers held in slavery. Its mission is to assist persons trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and slavery-like practices and to work toward ending all instances of such human rights violations. CAST is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual human rights organization that has been nationally and internationally recognized for its dedication to the identification of victims, mobilization of all sectors of the community to identify and advocate against trafficking, and provision of direct services to ensure that victims receive appropriate services and assistance to recover from their trauma. For more information, please visit www.castla.org.


About O’Melveny & Myers LLP

With approximately 1,000 lawyers in 14 offices worldwide, O’Melveny & Myers LLP helps industry leaders across a broad array of sectors manage the complex challenges of succeeding in the global economy. We are a values-driven law firm, guided by the principles of excellence, leadership, and citizenship. Our commitment to these values is reflected in our dedication to improving access to justice through pro bono work and championing initiatives that increase the diversity of the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.omm.com