Heroes of the Week: Diane Wilson and her Legal Team

Diane Wilson rallies activists near Lavaca Bay. Image: Charlie Blalock

A federal judge approved a historic $50 million settlement agreement Tuesday between Taiwan-based plastics manufacturer Formosa and a scrappy environmental activist represented by indigent legal services nonprofit Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. The settlement is the largest in U.S. history involving a private citizen’s lawsuit against an industrial polluter.

As the Texas Tribune reported, it all started when Diane Wilson, a retired shrimper and an environmental activist, sued Formosa in July 2017, alleging that its Port Comfort plant had illegally discharged thousands of plastic pellets and other pollutants into Lavaca Bay and other nearby waterways. Environmental group San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper, represented by two private attorneys, joined Wilson in the suit.

We commend Diane as well as Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid for fighting this fight. Without hard-fought lawsuits such as these, big polluters would have few deterrents from dumping harmful substances into the environment. This is really difficult work and we owe a lot to people like Diane.

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