Wednesday, June 20, 2018

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS TOLLED

189. The statute of limitations for the causes of action brought in this Complaint are tolled via one or more of the following doctrines, theories or rules: crimes against humanity, Federal Accrual/Discovery Rule, Equitable Tolling and Continuing Violation.

Crimes Against Humanity

190. Just as there is no statute of limitation for murder in any State in the Union, there is no statute of limitation for crimes against humanity. Slavery is and has always been by definition a crime against humanity. There has never been a legitimate justification for the economic and social subjugation of one person to another.

191. The institution of slavery in the United States was the most obscene and extreme example of the practice of slavery given that the economically interdependent conspiracy was so complete that these unjust profits were garnered at every level of the market. Therefore any profits from such a heinous activity are not, nor should they be, sheltered by a statute of limitation.

Federal Accrual/Discovery Rule

192. While it is clear that the Africans and African-Americans who were enslaved were enslaved against their will and robbed of all their rights to include their “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” these individuals were not privy to the causes and extent of the harms they suffered. Without this information, the claim does not accrue.

193. It is equally clear that the plaintiffs were in large part uneducated, unsophisticated and in most cases in extremely difficult circumstances after the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ostensibly abolishing slavery. In fact, as with the slave population of Texas and elsewhere, the mere knowledge of “emancipation” was difficult to obtain having been delayed for years and, for some, decades. To impute to these individuals who have been subjugated for over a century, and for some for generations, what amounts to an omniscient knowledge of their rights, the violations they suffered, those that were the cause of and those that illegally profited from those violations is an incredible fiction.

194. The information related to the extent, nature and cause of the harms was and is uniquely within the possession and control of the named defendants in this case or their predecessors and other privately held corporations and businesses. This information includes, but is not limited to, business relationships, contracts for goods and services, manifests, business ventures, annual reports, slave holdings, shipping records, etc. The vast majority of this information and documentation has never been available to or accessible by the public. With the recent advent of the Internet and other research tools recently, a few talented or privileged individuals have accessed some of the documentation leading to information about the extent, nature and cause of the harms suffered.

195. As an example of the difficulty of gaining access to the documentation and cooperation from the corporations, efforts merely toward the gathering and study of information related to slavery and its effects for African-Americans and American society in Congress have been thwarted for years. Specifically, Representative John Conyers from Michigan has for the last 11 years proposed Resolution No. 40 seeking to set aside $8 million dollars to study the effects of slavery and come up with a formula for reparations. His resolution has died in committee for each of these past eleven years. The opposition to this effort is at least in part clearly from corporate America as there has been no corporation, to include the named defendants in this action, which have gone on record as either supporting Rep. Conyers's resolution or voluntarily disclosing their documentation and knowledge of their connections with slavery.

196. The period following slavery rather than being a period of flourishing for Africans and African-Americans was simply another period of subjugation with Jim Crow laws and other forms of segregation. This period made it all the more difficult for the plaintiffs to gain access to information which would have put them on notice of the violations of their rights as asserted within this Complaint.

Equitable Tolling

197. The named defendants and/or their predecessor entities engaged in one or more of the following: slave business dealings which were self-concealing, denials of any profits from slavery and/or denials to the public for access to or accountings of documented slavery dealings and profits from same.

198. The nature of the complained of business dealings by the defendants, as discussed in more detail in those portions of this Complaint, establishes that they were self-concealing from the enslaved African and African-Americans. For example, there is no reason for the slaves to know or be aware that their lives were insured; that financing deals controlled their lives; or that profits far a field from their miserable existence occurred.

199. A number of the defendants have also over the years specifically and falsely denied having any connection to slavery.

200. Despite efforts, the plaintiffs have been unable to secure records from a number of the defendants with regards to their ancestors due to the failure of most, if not all, to be able to reliably access documents establishing business relationships, ventures and dealings, contracts, shipping manifests, human cargo lists that may directly connect the plaintiffs with their slave ancestors and their free ancestors. The lists should provide more connections than not having this information, obviously. However, even this information will not provide an easy answer as further efforts were employed to destroy access to information and causation such as the changing of names at most, if not all, stages of the slave trade to include the original kidnapping and Trans-Atlantic journey, all sales and resales, sales of children and their children's children thus making it nearly impossible to accurately trace records.

201. Recent advances in Internet and computer databases have made these records more accessible.

202. Likewise, corporate histories and records have also been extremely difficult and inaccessible to most people. Hence, research tracing the monetary benefit derived by American corporations from the slave trade has only been accessible and discussed by prominent researchers within the last year.

203. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference, as if fully set forth herein, the paragraphs from the preceding Federal Accrual/Discovery Rule section related to the defendants' efforts to withhold documentation and information.

Continuing Violation

204. Finally, the action of each of the defendants by their failure to provide an accounting to the plaintiffs constitutes a continuing violation that tolls the statute.

 

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