Beginning in 2001, Laredo, Texas attorney Ronald Rodriguez took on one of the nation’s largest private prison corporations in the beating death of an inmate. Just a few days before his scheduled release, Gregorio de la Rosa, who was serving a six-month DUI sentence, was beaten to death in the prison yard by fellow inmates.
In the aftermath, De la Rosa’s family learned from Ron’s investigation that inmates often initiated these sorts of beatings on other prisoners who were up for release. Ron’s sleuthing further reveled that the Wackenhut Correction Corp. destroyed evidence in an effort to cover up De la Rosa’s murder, and that his beating was indicative of rampant corruption throughout the prison’s leadership. The lawsuit Ron filed against Wackenhut for malicious wrongful death and destruction of evidence charged that guards and wardens stood idly by and laughed during the fatal beating.
In 2006, the jury in De la Rosa v. Wackenhut awarded $47.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages against the private prison corporation and one of its wardens. It was the largest jury verdict ever in Willacy County, Texas, and one of the largest in the country that year. And Ron accomplished all this as a sole practitioner, while there were 25 lawyers from more than 10 different firms at the defense table. In 2009, the Texas Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.
This David v. Goliath victory earned Ron Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year Award in 2010. And it tells you something about his determination and diligence for justice: when speaking about the case. Then Executive Director Arthur Bryant described Ron as “a textbook case of perseverance and courage.”
In addition to his practice, Ron is a member of our Board of Directors, and currently serves on the Court Rules Committee of the State Bar of Texas. He was also appointed by the Texas Supreme Court to the Texas Supreme Court Ancillary Proceedings Task Force.
Active in his local community, he is Past President of the Laredo-Webb County Bar Association and received their coveted Spark Plug Award for his energetic service and dedication to the local bar members. Ron has been recognized by his community as a LULAC Tejano Achiever; he was also honored by Texas Rural Legal Aid Laredo Branch Office for his commitment to Justice for All.
As Ron’s work illustrates, he doesn’t hesitate to take on powerful entities in his pursuit of justice. And on behalf of others like Gregoria de la Rosa’s family, Ron will continue to do so.
To join Ron and thousands of other plaintiff’s lawyers nationwide as members of the Public Justice Foundation, click here.