In lawsuit against illegal immigrant, McNutt's company retreated from claims it did not employ illegal immigrants

As the campaign of Corsicana businessman Thomas McNutt for the Texas House begins in earnest tonight with a fundraiser at the home of Dallas megadonor Doug Deason, the Vice President of the Collin Street Bakery is once again pitching voters on the idea that he will take a hardline stance on illegal immigration in the mold of President Donald Trump. 

Tensions over the issue are arguably as high as they have been in years. Following the passage of Senate Bill 4, Rep. Matt Rinaldi – who belongs to the same anti-establishment faction of the GOP as McNutt – this week drew international attention to the House floor after saying he calledImmigration and Customs Enforcement to round up anti-SB4 protesters. 

“People are tired of illegal immigrants receiving countless government handouts while we American citizens are stuck paying the bill,” McNutt said in his campaign announcement earlier this year. 

But after McNutt’s first challenge of State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook was unsuccessful in 2016, largely because of revelations his company has employed undocumented people, legal actions stemming from that campaign are raising new questions about the Collin Street Bakery’s hiring practices. 

Jose Manuel Santoyo, one of the young undocumented immigrants who used to work for McNutt and spoke out against him in 2016 in the Dallas Morning News and elsewhere, was sued this year by Collin Street Bakery over claims of defamation, Quorum Report has learned. 

We have also learned that the suit was quietly dropped after McNutt’s company fully retreated from the argument that all its employees’ legal status were verified.

Neither the Collin Street Bakery attorneys nor the McNutt campaign responded to requests for comment about how this lawsuit was handled.  

The initial lawsuit filed in February states that Santoyo lied about the company’s reliance on undocumented labor. But in an amended petition obtained by QR filed on May 5, nearly all references to Santoyo’s accusations are removed. 

Instead, the amended suit says Santoyo provided false identification and documents stating he is a legal resident of the United States when he applied for a job at the company’s call center fielding orders for Collin Street’s world-famous fruitcake. 

Included in the language slashed from the lawsuit by Collin Street’s attorneys: “Defendant completed the Federal Government’s Employment Eligibility Verification form (“I-9”) as part of Plaintiff’s hiring processes prior to being hired as do all of Plaintiff’s applicants.” 

Santoyo worked at the bakery prior to the company’s use of the E-Verify system, a way for employers to check an applicant’s legal status. Collin Street Bakery only began using the voluntary system checking an applicant’s residency status within in the past year, according to a search of government records.

That use of E-Verify comes after the 2016 GOP primary in which Chairman Cook called on McNutt to start using it. 

“My opponent is a hypocrite,” Cook said at the time. “McNutt says he’s opposed to sanctuary cities, but is running a ‘sanctuary business’ himself because illegal aliens know the Collin Street Bakery and Navarro Pecan Company do not participate in the E-Verify program.”

On page three of the original petition, lawyers again claimed, “Defendant has made numerous untrue and unlawful statements about Plaintiffs hiring and employment practices throughout the past year.” But the amended petition scratches that language and instead claims Santoyo only lied about his own immigration status.

Importantly, Santoyo’s employment documents were never presented to the court as part of the company’s case against him. 

“Defendant has made numerous untrue and unlawful statements about Plaintiffs hiring and employment practices related to his employment with the Plaintiff,” the attorneys argued.

Lawyers also deleted all of page three referencing various articles about Santoyo’s claims. 

On page five, lawyers used the same legal statutes to justify their defamation case. But the language changed again, suggesting Santoyo falsified his application and lied about his immigration status.

“Plaintiff did not hire Defendant knowing he was an unauthorized worker,” the amended petition reads. “Plaintiff’s practice related to Defendant followed the government’s “Employment Verification System” requirements set forth in the Immigration Reform and Control Act (“IRCA”). See 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b). In this regard, Plaintiff performed the following tasks required by 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b) before hiring Defendant.”

In their original suit, Collin Street’s lawyers outlined the bakery’s process for verifying an applicant’s immigrant status when filling out an employment application. In the amended petition, however, that process only related to Santoyo.

QR compared changes between the two documents using a program called Workshare Compare. Between the original and amended petitions are 92 deletions with almost all relating to the argument that Collin Street Bakery does not hire undocumented immigrants.

Two minutes after filing the amended case, the bakery’s attorneys dropped their lawsuit.

Here is the original petition filed against Santoyo. 

You can look at the amended petition by downloading it here

And finally, here is a look at the original lawsuit with the language that ended up being deleted highlighted in yellow.

Copyright May 31, 2017, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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