On October 15, 2014, Governor Rick Snyder signed the Human Trafficking Victims Compensation Act, 2014 Public Act 339. As part of a powerful package of anti-trafficking bills championed by Senator Judy Emmons and sponsored by legislators on both sides of the aisle, the Act empowers survivors to seek damages from offenders in civil court for a broad range of physical, emotional, psychological and economic harm, including:
•· physical pain and suffering;
•· mental anguish;
•· fright and shock;
•· denial of social pleasure and enjoyment;
•· embarrassment, humiliation and mortification;
•· aggravation of preexisting ailments or conditions;
•· reasonable expenses of necessary medical or psychological care, treatment and services;
•· loss of earnings or earning capacity;
•· damage to property; and
•· any other necessary and reasonable expense incurred as a result of the violation.
Michigan’s Trafficking Victims Compensation Act empowers survivors to seek civil redress in state court within three years after the last violation and regardless of whether the offender is charged or convicted in criminal court. Survivors may also seek relief in federal court under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, 18 U.S.C. 1595, which allows a civil action against the perpetrator (or whoever knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value from participation in a venture which that person knew or should have known involved sex or labor trafficking). Survivors generally have ten years to pursue their federal claims.
Michigan’s new civil cause of action provides survivors with an additional avenue of recovery and the potential for some measure of justice. It is a welcomed step forward in the anti-trafficking effort.
Inquiries about human trafficking can be directed to attorney Nakisha Chaney.