I just finished up six years of pro bono legal services in a noteworthy case as a cooperating counsel with the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ). There was a press release on the case today May 15. It can be found at www.tlpj.com Through out the six years I was primary lead counsel in Guzman v. AMVAC Chemical Corp. The case was brought to the attention of TLPJ,which is a national public interest law firm that brings cutting edge litigation as a matter of public interest.
Lawyers are often viewed as self-centered money grubbing evils of society. I, of course, think differently. Putting my beliefs about the obligation to give, which were cultivated during my years of education in the Putnam City school system, I gave it my all in the Guzman v. AMVAC Chemical Corp. Over the last six years, I not only donated well over a 1000 hours of my professional time, but I also donated thousands of hours by my paid office staff, plus I advanced well over a $125,000 of my own funds to the litigation expenses to the prosecution of the case. (the litigation expenses were for expert witnesses, depositions, testing and all other expenses except those for lawyers fees) Several other law firms through out Washington State and Texas helped in the prosecution of this case, so the credit for the successful resolution is not due to my actions alone. We all worked hard and went more than an extra mile.
The case was prosecuted because what some of the pesticide industry was doing to farm workers and growers alike was utterly monstrous. The case was not easy, most would not have taken it on because it made no economic sense to prosecute it. TLPJ brings these type of case that would not otherwise be prosecuted, because the risk and/or cost make it prohibited to prosecute.
In Washington State there are no punitive damages allowed by law. That meant all that could be recovered was for actual losses. What was done here was criminal, but with no punitive damages it was never economically feasible for any lawyer to bring the case. Farm workers are some of the lowest paid workers, so the damages were limited. Additionally, the reality is many discriminate and think so what if a couple Hispanic workers are injured. On top of that the then current law was against any type of recovery. Along the way, we had to change the law and then try to prove the case. In my career, I have had many tough cases, but the Guzman case had an added dimension. An extraordinary pesticide was being aggressively marketed in Washington so apples could look pretty. Meanwhile the chemical company knew that what it was doing would most certainly result in profound injuries and probably death.
In high school I was known as Marcia Lamb, my name now is Marcia M. Meade.
Marcia M. Meade