Morrison Foerster secured $15.5 million in damages, including $11 million in punitive damages, for its pro bono clients David Boniface, Juders Ysemé, and Nissandère Martyr.
Over the course of the six-day trial, the jury heard evidence about how former mayor Viliena targeted those who opposed his strong-arm rule in Les Irois, Haiti. They heard how Viliena oversaw and ordered the brutal killing of David Boniface’s brother, Eclesiaste Boniface, in retaliation for David Boniface’s standing up to Viliena. The jury also heard how, in 2008, Viliena and his armed supporters ransacked the community radio station and beat, shot, and nearly killed Nissage Martyr and Juders Ysemé.
"We’ve been inspired by our clients’ bravery and persistence throughout their decades-long pursuit of justice, and it’s been our honor and privilege to represent them through to victory at trial and this momentous judgment, which finally holds the defendant to account for his abuses of power," said Bonnie Lau, Morrison Foerster partner leading the pro bono case.
Morrison Foerster served as co-counsel for the victims along with the Center for Justice and Accountability and Dentons U.S. LLP, with assistance from the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), a Haitian human rights organization.
The MoFo pro bono team included partner Bonnie Lau and associates Sarah Vandervalk and Christina Ademola.