Matos Rodriguez, et al., v. Pan American Health Organization, et al., Case No. 20-cv-928 (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia)

In 2013, Cuban doctors and medical professionals were involuntarily shipped abroad and forced to work under threats against themselves and their families. In Brazil, the doctors were kept in compounds under strict surveillance. Defendant PAHO organized this commercial exploitation of forced labor and collected a percentage of the doctors’ wages as a commission for its role in the trafficking scheme. The doctors are seeking damages from PAHO under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

In March 2022, CGL won an appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In a 3-0 decision, the panel ruled that an international organization such as PAHO cannot invoke immunity if it acts as financial intermediary that receives benefits from forced labor, because such activity is essentially commercial. This is the first such ruling in the history of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

For additional information, please contact Peter Gil-Montllor at (202) 789-3960 or by email at