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Florida businessman taken hostage in Chinese factory

Frequently, American companies utilize overseas factories and foreign workers for manufacturing. Items made overseas can be completed quickly, efficiently, and for less cost. However, if business disputes arise between American owners and foreign workers, the result can be very different from the orderly system found in the United States.

A Florida business executive says he was taken hostage for a week inside of his medical supply factory in China after workers demanded a severance package. According to the man, his company had closed down one of its divisions and provided the affected workers with severance pay. Other employees who were not being laid off learned of the payments, and they demanded additional money. When the American businessman refused to pay the workers who were not losing their jobs, he was locked in the factory and prevented from sleeping. Employees knocked on his office windows and shone bright lights at him. In China, such conduct is not uncommon when workers believe they are owed money, and law enforcement will not get involved in what they believe is a business dispute.

In order to buy his freedom, the executive paid the workers between $500,000 and $600,000 dollars. While this ransom money would be unthinkable in the United States, the executive suggested that it was a cost of doing business.  He expects business at the factory to return to normal. 

International business disputes can be complicated and unfamiliar. When performing business abroad, it can be helpful to have experienced attorneys who create documents to avoid as many problems as possible. Legal counsel can also assist clients in the event that business does not go as smoothly as expected.

Source: Miami Herald, “American boss hostage arrives back to US,” June 29, 2013

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