Appeals Court: Ex-Inmate Doesn't Have To Prove 'Chattel Slavery-Like Conditions' In Lawsuit


A man who claims he was forced to work in the prison’s laundry room for next-to-no pay will get a chance to argue his case in court after an appeals court ruled he can sue under the anti-slavery amendment.

Finbar McGarry allegedly fired a gun in his home in 2008 and threatened to kill his family and a University of Vermont official.

While awaiting trial at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, he claims he was forced to work in the laundry room for 25 cents per hour, which caused him to develop a bacterial infection because he didn’t have adequate sanitation, ABC News reported Friday. 

And now McGarry is suing, claiming the facility’s work program violates the 13th Amendment, which is designed to protect against slavery. While a lower court didn’t buy his arguments, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is siding with McGarry.

“Contrary to the district court’s conclusion, it is well-settled that the term ‘involuntary servitude’ is not limited to chattel slavery-like conditions,” Judge Barrington Parker wrote in the court’s opinion, according to ABC News. “The amendment was intended to prohibit all forms of involuntary labour, not solely to abolish chattel slavery.”

All charges against McGarry were eventually dropped and he was released from the facility in 2009. The facility houses both pretrial detainees and convicts.

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