KNOXVILLE, TENN. — The US District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee signaled that an ongoing lawsuit could be settled soon over the continuing issues with a 2018 raid at Southeastern Provisions LLC.
US District Judge Travis McDonough provided a stay regarding the case, which stems back to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allegedly violating the Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights of over 100 Latino workers working at the facility.
“On August 29, 2022, the parties notified the Court by e-mail of their agreement in principle to settle the case,” McDonough wrote in the stay. “In their notice, the parties request that the court stay all deadlines through September 9, 2022, to allow sufficient time to finalize their settlement agreement.”
After the raid at the plant, the original lawsuit was filed by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), along with their co-counsel, which accused government officials of targeting Latino employees because of their race.
“ICE agents detained every worker who looked Latino in the plant without regard to citizenship or documentation, a clear violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment,” the lawsuit said in 2019.
“Many workers weren’t even asked about documentation until hours into the raid. By then, many had already been traumatized, handcuffed, and denied communication with attorneys or family members — or access to sanitary facilities or critical medication — and taken to a holding facility.”
During August 2018, James Brantley, owner of Southeastern Provision, pled guilty to two counts of tax evasion, one count of wire fraud and one count of employment of undocumented workers.
In July 2020, former employees of Southeastern Provisions received $610,000 in back pay and damages, according to a consent order filed in federal court.