TRENTON, NEW JERSEY - Loeb & Loeb LLP won a significant victory for a pro bono client who was underpaid and abused for years in her job as a domestic worker for a Nepali family in New Jersey.
The Loeb client (who chooses to keep her name private) came to the United States to work as a live-in domestic worker and earn money for her family in Nepal. After working for one Nepali family for about eight years and not getting paid what she was entitled to, she found employment with a second Nepali family living in Toms River, New Jersey, a suburb of Trenton. She worked for the second family for over five years (from 1995 to 2000), receiving only $6,600 as payment, even though from the beginning she had asked to be paid a wage of $5 per hour, which was below the minimum wage at the time. The family mistreated her, verbally abusing and physically assaulting her. They made her work 15-17 hours per day. She finally got out of the situation in 2000 and found legal assistance in 2003.
Loeb's pro bono team, led by attorney Theodore K. Cheng in the firm's New York office, sued the husband and wife who had mistreated their client in Federal Court on a quantum meruit claim (the only non-time-barred claim the client had remaining) and commenced a jury trial on June 8, 2006. After a 6-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of $206,600 in compensatory damages, as well as awarding $10,000 in punitive damages against each defendant, for a total of $226,600.
Theo Cheng said at the end of the process, "The client and trial team are ecstatic. It is gratifying to know that the legal system can be used to serve justice, and that the client's rights were vindicated."
Loeb's co-counsel included Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union.