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. https://www.vjamesdesimonelaw.com/documents/Xue-Lu-v-United-States-of-America.pdf
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 come soon.