Jamie Leigh Jones’ legal nightmare was the inspiration behind passage of an amendment sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) which withholds government contracts from companies that force arbitration on sexual assault and discrimination victims.
Ms. Jones was employed by KBR/Halliburton in Iraq when she was drugged, raped, beaten and then confined to a shipping container by fellow employees. She was then denied the right to seek justice through the courts due to a clause placed in her KBR employment contract that forced her to submit to a binding, secret, non-appealable arbitration. Unaware that the clause was even part of her 18-page employment contract, Ms. Jones is still fighting to get access to the justice system.
Despite the harrowing ordeal she went though, Ms. Jones has been willing to go public to fight to restore her and other victims’ right to their day in court, instead of accepting a binding arbitration clause in her employment contract. The Women Trial Lawyers Caucus recognized Ms. Jones with the Courage in Action Award at AAJ’s annual convention in Vancouver in July 2010.
Steven J. Sharp Public Service Award—Keith Jones
Keith Jones lost his son Gordon during the April 20, 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Gordon was a 28-year-old mud engineer aboard the Deepwater Horizon, and leaves behind his widow Michelle to care for their two young sons, one born less than a month after Gordon’s death.
Since Gordon’s death, Mr. Jones, a trial lawyer, has worked hard to ensure his son’s death was not in vain. Mr. Jones, along with Gordon’s brother Chris, have lobbied extensively to ensure that current inequities in the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) are rectified. Currently, under DOHSA, the Jones’ and the families of the 10 other workers killed in the explosion face severe limitations on damages they can recover. Passed in 1920, the law limits BP’s liability to economic damages only, which in most cases means burial costs and the loss of support that family member would have provided. Because of the current law, BP will be able to evade its full responsibility to the families for the horrible way in which their loved ones died and the relationship they have now lost.
With the help of Keith Jones, changes to DOHSA passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2010 by a voice vote. Mr. Jones was awarded the Steven J. Sharp Public Service Award at AAJ’s annual convention in Vancouver in July 2010.
Jeremy Warriner of Indianapolis, Indiana has been a tireless advocate for victims of faulty automobile designs that have lost their access to the civil justice system because of the Chrysler and GM bankruptcy and subsequent automobile bailout.
Mr. Warriner was driving in his 2005 Jeep Wrangler when a motorist drove through a stop sign and struck his vehicle. The Jeep slid off the road and hit a pole. The impact caused the plastic brake fluid container in Warriner’s Jeep to break apart and erupt in fire. Mr. Warriner was rescued after suffering 3rd and 4th degree burns to his legs. When he awoke from a medically induced coma two months later, he found that both legs had been amputated.
As a result of the accident, Mr. Warriner spent over a year in and out of hospitals, had 38 surgeries and medical bills over $1 million. He sued Chrysler because of the faulty brake fluid container that caused the fire. His case was scheduled for mediation on May 5, 2010, but it was cancelled after Chrysler filed for bankruptcy on April 30, 2010.
This began Mr. Warriner’s tireless advocacy effort to restore the victims of automobile product defects legal rights. With the Chrysler and GM bankruptcy, these manufacturers escaped responsibility for all pending and future product liability claims for an estimated 90-million vehicles, many of which have known defects, sold prior to the conclusion of the bankruptcy. For Mr. Warriner’s tireless efforts, testifying before Congress, doing countless media interviews to share his story, he was awarded the Steven J. Sharp Public Service Award at AAJ’s annual convention in Vancouver in July 2010.