Ratha v. Phatthana Seafood Co.

On June 1, 2018, CJA filed an amicus brief in support of a group of rural Cambodian villagers who allege they are victims of human trafficking and forced labor in the Thai seafood processing industry.


Defendants in this case, including corporations based in California, are alleged to be participants in a joint venture which knowingly profited from the import and sale of seafood produced with trafficked labor. Civil claims were brought under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”) and the Alien Tort Statute. The US District Court for the Central District of California found that it could not hear claims brought against Phatthana Seafood because the act of trafficking occurred in Cambodia and Thailand, and Phatthana, a Thai company, could not be considered “present in” the United States within the meaning of the TVPRA.

The court’s decision is being appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where it will consider for the first time the interpretation of “present in” jurisdiction. CJA’s amicus brief focuses on the meaning of “present in” as it relates to how personal jurisdiction is understood in US law, and how “present in” should be interpreted in light of the TVPRA’s legislative history and international objectives and obligations to repress and remedy human trafficking.

CJA partnered with Professor Ralph Steinhardt of George Washington University School of Law and Professor Beth Van Schaak of Stanford University on the brief, with assistance from Dentons LLP.



CJA Amicus Brief
6 Jun 2018  Amicus Brief