On December 9, 2015, at 9:00 a.m, V. James DeSimone will argue to preserve
the $1.2 million verdict and $881,000 in attorneys’ fees awarded
in the Federal Civil Rights case of
Xue Lu and Jie Hao v.
United States of America. When Xue Lu came into his office sixteen years ago, DeSimone could not
have imagined that he was embarking on a sixteen year plus legal battle.
Ms. Xue immigrated from China and sought asylum based on being persecuted
under China’s one-child policy. She explained how her Asylum Officer
Thomas Powell called her and demanded to come to her apartment. She tearfully
explained how he touched her inappropriately and told her if she didn’t
like it, he would deny her asylum application. When she told him to leave
and that she didn’t like it, he said he would deny her asylum application,
which he promptly did.
It was a “he said – she said” case but there was circumstantial
evidence that Powell came to Xue’s apartment. Given that he was
essentially the Judge on her case, it was wrong for him to even contact
her without her lawyer. Nonetheless, it would be an uphill battle taking
on the United States of America but DeSimone was determined to get justice
and agreed to represent Xue Lu.
And then, it happened again. Doug Ingraham, an attorney who represented
Xue Lu in her immigration proceedings, received a call from Jie Hao, who
he also represented. Asylum Officer Thomas Powell called Jie Hao and demanded
to come to her apartment. When Jim DeSimone and Mr. Ingraham learned of
this, they contacted the U.S. Attorneys’ office in Los Angeles and
Jie Hao agreed to participate in a sting operation conducted by the Office
of Inspector General. Thomas Powell demanded $2000 from Ms. Hao to approve
her asylum application and it was all caught on video tape. In August
of 2004, Powell was criminally convicted based on the videotape and the
testimony of Ms. Hao and Ms. Xue.
However, the United States District Court initially dismissed the case
holding that Powell was not acting in the course and scope of his employment
when he demanded sex and money from Xue and Hao. DeSimone appealed this
decision to the 9th Circuit and in the landmark case of
Xue Lu vs. United States of America, he achieved a published decision holding Powell was acting in the course
and scope of employment when he demanded sex and money under the threat
of denying the Plaintiffs' asylum applications.
Nonetheless, the United States continued to refuse to compensate these
heroic women so DeSimone took the case to trial and the trial judge awarded
$1.2 million in damages, $500,000 to Xue Lu and $700,000 to Jie Hao. DeSimone
and his team applied for attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access
to Justice Act and the trial Judge made a finding of bad faith against
the United States and awarded $881,000 in attorneys’ fees.
Despite the finding that it employed a predator who violated the rights
of Ms. Xue and Ms. Hao when they were the most vulnerable, the United
States continues its delay in compensation and has appealed the judgment
and award of attorneys’ fees. DeSimone is the lead attorney on the
Oral argument which is set for December 9, 2015 at 9 a.m in Pasadena.
DeSimone and his clients are hopeful that closure to this ordeal will
PR Newswire Article