Fighting a Giant for a Family Cause
In my previous post, I shared a little about how certain fungicides cause severe damage among humans, and how callous corporate behemoths can be with regard to how chemicals act upon individuals – things I was led to explore once the Castillo family had come to ask me for help against such a corporate giant.
I was curious about how a victory against a behemoth like DuPont would impact this family. How would it make their lives different? Donna explained that if they won, Johnny could get the education, develop the skills, undergo the therapy, and secure the devices necessary to meet his special needs. This would make his life much more bearable.
“Juan doesn’t make that much money, and our wish—our hope—is to send our son to the Perkins School for the Blind,” she said.
I knew the Perkins School was very expensive. There was no shot of little Johnny going there unless they won this case.
As I held Johnny’s photo in my hand, again I found myself thinking about my own children. I wondered what I would do if this were my son. I admit, this case represented everything I loved about being a lawyer.
I wasn’t as humble as the Castillos.
I’d want vindication by proving this company had fucked up. I’d want to show the court that, without any question, it wasn’t something my wife did that caused my child’s condition. It wasn’t her mistake, but rather the fault of someone who thought they could get away with causing this type of harm because they weren’t being held accountable for it.
This family needed me.
It would be challenging, make no mistake about it—this was a real-life David-and-Goliath battle we were about to wage.
It would take a miracle to win.
And it had my name written all over it.
“Let me get this straight,” I said. “You’re asking me if I’ll represent you against DuPont?”
Donna stared back at me, wiping away her tears with a handful of tissues she took from the box on my desk. She appeared so helpless.
“Yes, Mr. Ferraro. That is why I’m here,” she said quietly.
I sat still for a moment, contemplating my next move. I looked at Donna, who was so sad. I’m not good when people cry. I’m a sucker at pity parties and usually play right into them, especially when it comes to women. But this was different. In this case, I genuinely felt empathy for Donna and her husband. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes or trade the good fortune I had with my three healthy children for the challenging life they faced with their daughter and sightless son.
There have been many times in my career when I’ve wanted to take on cases despite the fact that I knew they were unwinnable. Times when I was sure an injustice had occurred but suspected the odds were against me. Times, for instance, when multiple companies were dumping toxic waste in the same place, so there was no way to prove whose fault it was. Times when I had the desire to be a hero but still had to tell victims who’d suffered horrific consequences to get on with their lives even though their time was surely limited and their quality of life would never be the same. That doesn’t get any easier for me. And yet sometimes it’s the only advice I can offer, because there is no other solution.
I started to give Donna my usual spiel. I wanted to encourage her and Juan to put this ordeal behind them and move on with their lives. I explained that sometimes things happen, and we may never understand the reason or purpose. These are things that are out of our control. They’re in God’s hands, and we have to trust in Him. But that wasn’t the way the Castillos’ story would end.
I knew it, and so did they.
I was doing my best to sound compassionate and sympathetic. Even as I spoke, I felt something rising inside me. I recognized that nagging feeling I get when a grave injustice has been done, the certainty that I can make a difference in someone’s life if we pursue a case together.
But I didn’t want to drag the Castillos into a five-year battle they would most likely lose. It would be the worst emotional roller coaster they’d ever go on. I knew that. I sincerely didn’t want to engage them in the battle if they couldn’t win the war. That’s what happens.
People become so obsessed with the fight along the way that they run the risk of being totally devastated by the final outcome. I understood it was a difficult, if not impossible case at best, and yet if I didn’t take this chance, I was certain no one else would either.
The family had already been to several much larger law firms—firms that could bankroll a case like this with more ease than I could—and were turned down by every one of them. It was lunacy for me to take this on. This situation seemed to shout, “Run for the hills!” but still I found myself running toward the Castillos rather than away from them.
In my next post, I will talk about some of the factors that began to lead me to say yes to this case, and to help the Castillos find justice.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on corporations and the common person – the big guy versus the little guy. Do you think any of us really stand a chance when the DuPont companies of the world want to have their way? Thank you for sharing.