At its annual gala in Montreal last week, the Public Justice Foundation bestowed its prestigious Illuminating Injustice Award on Hendler Lyons Flores client Rosa Moreno.
In 2011, while working an overnight shift at a maquiladora – a foreign-owned manufacturing facility in Mexico – Rosa Moreno lost both of her hands when a large metal cutting machine she was operating malfunctioned. Moreno was making parts for use in flat screen televisions sold by LG Electronics, one of the world’s largest electronics and technology companies. Despite her devastating injuries, however, neither LG nor the company that hired Moreno and operated the facility offered any significant compensation. She was offered 50,000 pesos – approximately $3,800 – which would do little to support her recovery or her eight children, six of whom still live at home.
“That’s our offer,” the general manager told Moreno. “Stop making such a big scandal about it and take it.” Moreno went in search of an attorney instead. She asked Hendler Lyons Flores, PLLC to sue LG, and we initially obtained a default judgment against the company. That was later vacated, however, when the court ruled – despite clear evidence to the contrary – that the defendant had failed to answer for good cause. In the same order, the Court dismissed the entire suit under the doctrine of forum non conveniens without giving Moreno a chance to respond or contest the ruling.
In truth, the factory where Moreno worked was operated through a system of sham Mexican companies operating on the U.S. side of the border and designed to evade U.S. jurisdiction.
Under Mexican law, no legal remedy is available to Moreno, where her maximum compensation would amount to just over $14,000, scarcely enough to replace a lifetime of lost wages.
“How will I feed my children?” Moreno asked a manager at the plant. “Senora,” he replied, “why don’t you go home and rest?” Instead, Rosa decided to seek legal help, and to tell her story in the media. Last month, she authored an op-ed in The Guardian newspaper which has now been shared more than 75,000 times, helping to shine a spotlight on the injustices she and other workers have faced.
Neither LG nor the company that hired Moreno has offered any additional help. “LG Electronics bears no responsibility” for her injuries, the company told media in a statement. Watch a news story about Rosa's efforts to bring attention to the plight of workers who labor in unsafe conditions south of the U.S. Border.DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG