Reyes-Hernandez v. Bayer

No description
January 18, 2023
Not judged
United States, Virginia

Farm/rural workers
Elvira Reyes-Hernandez
Bayer, Monsanto, Holland Law Firm, Ketterer, Browne Associates, Ged Lawyers
Rachel C. McFarland

Civil court
Declare that Defendants violated Plaintiff's civil rights by denying her the right to make and enforce contracts relating to the Roundup litigation because she is not a U.S. citizen; compensate her for damages suffered in violation of those rights; and enjoin Defendants to provide her with the benefit of the settlement
District court of Virginia, United States

Ms. Reyes-Hernandez is a farmworker and resident of Virginia. She worked foryears on Virginia tree farms with the weed-killer Roundup produced by the firm Monsanto, later acquired by Bayer. In 2019, she was diagnosed with cancer, non-Hodkin's lymphoma.

That same year, she contracted with three law firms, Holland Law Firm - Ketterer, Browne & Associates - Ged Lawyers, an "Attorney Contingency Fee Agreement", to file a lawsuit againt Bayer. On July 29, 2019, a complaint was filed by the defendant firms on behalf of Reyes-Hernandez and twenty-four co-plaintiffs in the St. Louis County, Missouri court (No. 19SL-CC03134).

A Settlement Program offer from Bayer was ultimately accepted by Ms. Reyes-Hernandez in exchange for the release of her claims. However, in July 2021, 7 months after the settlement was signed, the defendant law firms informed the plaintiff that she had been excluded from it because she was not a U.S. citizen. In addition, they withdrew from representing the plaintiff and unilaterally dismissed her claims in the above case (No. 19SL-CC03134). These actions left Plaintiff without settlement, without legal representation, and without the lawsuit she’d contracted with the lawyers to bring.

As a result, Plaintiff filed suit on January 18, 2023 against her attorneys and Bayer. She claims, among other things, that the attorneys breached their contractual commitment by not handling her complaint and that Bayer violated her civil rights to make and enforce contracts under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, by excluding her from the compensation program because she was not a U.S. citizen. She therefore seeks compensation for damages.

Roundup products are most heavily applied by agricultural workers, most of whom, like Elvira Reyes-Hernandez, are non-United States citizens. In other words, those individuals with some of the worst exposures to Roundup have been kept out of the Settlement Program, and they are being kept out because, they are not United States citizens.