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Robins Kaplan LLP Secures Landmark Civil Jury Verdict in Sex Tourism Case

Minneapolis, MN—May 15, 2017—National trial firm Robins Kaplan LLP® secured a decisive jury verdict this week, pro bono, in an unprecedented federal lawsuit filed by a sex tourism victim. Robins Kaplan’s victory on behalf of plaintiff Panyia Vang is believed to be the first civil jury verdict in a sex tourism case. 

Robins Kaplan presented evidence to the federal court in Minnesota that defendant Thiawachu Prataya, a U.S. citizen, traveled from the U.S. to Laos in 2006 and engaged in a sexual act with 14-year old Vang by using force against her. The evidence showed that she became pregnant as a result of the rape and suffered significant physical and emotional pain from the sexual assault.

On May 11, 2017, the jury returned a complete win for Robins Kaplan’s client on all three issues being considered: the verdict stated that the defendant engaged in a sexual act with the plaintiff by using force against her; the verdict confirmed that the plaintiff was under 16 years of age at the time; and the court awarded Vang $950,000 in damages.

“This verdict vindicates the tremendous courage Panyia Vang had to come forward,” said Patrick M. Arenz, principal at Robins Kaplan and lead trial counsel for Vang. “The verdict also sends a strong message that sex tourism will not be tolerated. U.S. citizens who travel overseas to engage in illicit sexual conduct can be tried and held accountable in federal court.”

Robins Kaplan associate Adam M. Kohnstamm also represented the plaintiff. Linda Miller of the Civil Society served as co-counsel. The Civil Society is a non-profit that provides legal services to victims of sexual assault, human trafficking, and child sex tourism.

The case, Panyia Vang v. Thiawachu Prataya, Case No. 12-cv-1847, was heard before the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota by the Hon. Joan N. Ericksen.

Robins Kaplan has a deep commitment to pro bono matters. The firm placed among the top five firms in the nation for pro bono work, according to the latest rankings by The American Lawyer.