As a returning clinical student, I have had the unique opportunity to work on this project for two semesters, overseeing the project from start to finish. During this period, I witnessed the scope of our representation expand dramatically as we learned more about our client’s long-term goals. I also saw first-hand how our strategies for achieving the client’s goals changed over time.
In the following section, I discuss the major developments of this project in more detail. Through these visuals and explanations (see the PDF here), I aim to demonstrate how this project evolved over time.
INITIAL QUESTION: What are the inert ingredients?
When we started working on this project in fall 2018, we focused on the client’s initial question: What are the inert ingredients in Rodeo® and Polaris®? To answer this question, we first researched what ingredient information about the herbicide products was publicly available. (Step 1). We then researched other potential sources of ingredient information. (Step 2).
Although we were not able to find a list of the inert ingredients in each herbicide product, we were able to provide other helpful information about the chemical composition and health hazards of the products. (Step 3). After revealing this information to the client, we learned that our client’s ultimate goal was much broader than we had our initially thought; she wanted to recover damages for the injuries she had suffered as a result her exposure. (See Question 2). Accordingly, our research objectives and strategies expanded dramatically in spring 2019.
Despite these changes, we also continued to research the inert ingredients in the spring semester. Since we had already exhausted all the potential sources of ingredient information (see Step 2), we decided to try chemically deformulating the products at an analytical laboratory. (Step 4).
SECOND QUESTION: Can our client recover damages?
During our second semester on the project, we researched whether our client could recover damages for injuries she suffered as a result of the utility’s past spraying. We first researched if there was a statute of limitations of which we should be aware. (Step 1).
During a phone call with the client about upcoming deadlines, she informed us that there might be another pesticide spraying in her area in the next couple months. To prevent additional harm to our client, we began to research how to stop future pesticide applications on the client’s property. (See Question 3).
We then researched if there were any experienced tort firms located near our out-of-state client who would be willing to take this case on a contingency basis. (Step 2). After we found an interested firm, we began to researched what evidence the client would need if she decided to pursue legal action. (Step 3).
THIRD QUESTION: Can our client stop future sprayings?
To help the client stop future sprayings, we first researched the utility company’s pesticide policies to see if there were alternative ways to maintain the client’s property. (Step 1). We also looked at the pesticide programs of other local utility companies to find other methods of preventing additional exposure to the client. (Step 2). Finally, we sent the client a recommended course of action for future negotiations with her utility regarding upcoming sprayings. (Step 3).