Immigration Proof Allowed; Dominatrix Mention Denied

 

Immigration Proof Allowed; Dominatrix Mention Denied

Mark Hamblett
New York Law Journal
May 10, 2007

A jury that will decide the back wages claim of a Brazilian nanny will not be allowed to hear that her allegedly stingy boss is a dominatrix.

Southern District of New York Judge Laura Taylor Swain has ruled against allowing Luzenilde Campos to tell the jury that her boss, Scarlet LeMay, is a dominatrix or escort. That information is no longer relevant, the judge said, because she has dismissed counterclaims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress made by LeMay.

But the judge said that a jury would be allowed to hear evidence about Campos’ immigration status as she tries to win unpaid minimum wages and overtime, as well as unspecified damages from LeMay in Campos v. LeMay, 05 Civ. 2089.

Campos, who was a full-time live-in domestic worker who took care of LeMay’s young son, sued LeMay for more than $47,000, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.

LeMay has had a long career as a dominatrix and advertises under "Ultimate Encounters" in the escort listings of the Yellow Pages. She also goes by the name of Vampyra in her role as lead singer for the goth band Mantik.

When Campos filed suit and newspaper articles disclosed LeMay’s profession, LeMay made the counterclaims against her fired nanny, saying the complaint and the articles defamed her.

Judge Swain first ruled that the allegations in the complaint are absolutely privileged.

As to the newspaper articles, Judge Swain said LeMay has "failed to offer any evidence that plaintiff provided information to the press implying that defendant was an ‘escort.’"

She also noted that Campos, as well as her attorneys, denied speaking to any reporters after the complaint was filed.

One of the articles, the judge said, "describes Ms. LeMay as a dominatrix, which defendant acknowledges is the proper label for her occupation," and she also conceded it was true that she runs "Ultimate Encounters."

Judge Swain also had little trouble dismissing the counterclaim for intentional infliction of emotional distress brought by LeMay on behalf of herself and her son — a claim she made because Campos made "many false and outrageous claims in her complaint" and allegedly told the press she was an escort.

Citing the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Judge Swain said that, even taking LeMay’s allegations as true and giving her all reasonable inferences, "none of plaintiff’s alleged actions can reasonably be regarded as so ‘outrageous’ or ‘atrocious’ as ‘to go beyond all possible bounds of decency.’"

LeMay also failed to raise a "genuine issue of fact as to whether defendant or her son suffered emotional distress as to plaintiff’s allegedly tortious conduct," the judge said, because she had made only "speculative and conclusory" allegations.

Campos made a motion in limine to prevent LeMay from presenting any evidence at trial on Campos’ immigration status, arguing that it was irrelevant.

LeMay countered that the status was indeed relevant. She said she paid Campos in cash and did not keep written records because the nanny was an immigrant, and these facts might affect the jury’s view of Campos’ credibility.

"This court has recognized the potential risk of injury to plaintiffs from disclosing immigration status and holds it undiscoverable when irrelevant to the (Fair Labor Standards Act) claim at issue," she said. "Courts have further recognized the in terrorem effect of inquiring into a party’s immigration status by acknowledging the danger of intimidation that could prevent plaintiffs’ from vindicating their legal rights."

Here, however, Campos’ status is relevant to her wage and overtime claims, the judge said. She allowed it into evidence, albeit with a limiting instruction to the jury.

William Russell, Jason Stone and William Martin of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Haeyoung Yoon of the Urban Justice Center represented Campos. LeMay appeared pro se.

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Law.com – Immigration Proof Allowed; Dominatrix Mention Denied

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