TRLA Lawyer Opts To Settle Vineyard Suit

Fort Stockton Pioneer. May 10, 1990

In late June, 83rd District Judge Alex Gonzalez  apparently will decide to accept or reject a proposed settlement between the University of Texas/Ste. Genevieve Winery and Vineyards and six disgruntled ex-winery workers.

Reports indicate Texas Rural Legal Aid lawyer Stephen C. McIntyre, who represents the workers will accept a proposed $30,000 settlement of a class action suit alleging rights violations.

The suit was filed in June 1987 by McIntyre on behalf of employees who worked at the winery from June 15, 1983 through Oct. 31, 1986.

In the suit, Juan Lechler, Marcela Lechler, Horacio Garcia, Rafaela Vizlar, Simon Tamez, and Juan Solis claimed defendants FCI Inc., Don Murray, Rogelio Vela (or Rogelio Flores), Leonardo Guerrero and Roberto Perales failed to post workers’ rights and provide adequate shade and water.

McIntyre said the workers will accept the settlement because UT is exempt from litigation under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and because the other employer, SGRC, Inc., went bankrupt.

That left only the labor contractor-FCI and Murray-as a target of the suit.

Settlement negotiations have been underway about one year.

McIntyre said up to 200 former winery employees could share in the settlement, but he does  not anticipate anywhere near that number because some may have moved from the area and because others likely will not hear of the proposed settlement and potential cash award.

To submit a claim for part of the settlement, workers could write to the 83rd District Court Clerk, P.O. Box 1647, Fort Stockton, Tx.79735 by June 20.

The court hearing to accept or disallow the settlement is set for June 26.

If approved, the deal would mean the six plaintiffs listed in the suit would win $100 and also share in the balance of the $29,400 on a pro rata basis along with all the employees who file claims.