An excerpted version of a piece I wrote for the Connecticut Law Tribune:
One of David Rosen's personal injury cases resolved for a confidential amount last fall. When he got the case, his offices were in New Haven, about 10 miles away from where plaintiff Brenda Adelson was living in Hamden.
But Adelson hadn't been hurt in Connecticut or even the continental United States. Her leg was severely crushed by a failing water tower in Mali, a landlocked Western country and a former French colony. Adelson's companion was killed.
Adelson was airlifted from Mali to Paris, then taken from Paris to Hartford, and then by helicopter to New Haven. Even though Adelson lost her left leg near the hip, doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital saved her life, Rosen says.
In pursuing a lawsuit against the owners of the water tower, her lawyers traveled even further. Discovery was conducted in four countries on three continents, including Mali's capital of Bamako and Quebec City. Meanwhile, Rosen's associate, Hunter Smith, flew to Paris in just his third week on the job to participate in a deposition being taken in French. Smith grew up in Europe, and he learned French in school.
Adelson was in Mali as a volunteer for MBA Enterprise Corps, an organization that deploys recently graduated MBAs from U.S. business schools for long-term volunteer assignments in developing nations.
She went to a tiny village in Mali to view the newly constructed water tower at the invitation of Cristina Nardone, the local employee of a nonprofit group that supports sustainable tourism projects in developing countries and is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
According to court papers, Nardone was the one who issued the purchase order for the construction of the water tower. She was also the one killed when the tower collapsed while it was being filled with water for the first time during Adelson's and her visit to the village. The builders of the tower were ultimately convicted in a Malian court of involuntary homicide, involuntary battery and violating Mali's construction law.
Rosen and Smith, along with their cocounsel and opposing counsel, traveled to Mali to take depositions for the civil lawsuit. The capital was in the last section of Mali that was still held by the government, which was trying to put down an Islamist rebellion with the help of the French.
The attorneys stayed in a nice hotel in Bamako, where there was a "very, very high level of security," Rosen said. Armed guards screened vehicles in the parking lot and guests in the hotel lobby.
When the lawyers asked a witness why he was willing to travel eight hours to the capital to give a deposition, Rosen said the witness explained that it was the Malian way to try to help someone if asked for assistance.
At one point, the plaintiffs team looked for a piece of rebar—concrete reinforced with steel rods—because the issue arose whether rebar had been used in the water tower. During a break, taken so the witnesses and the interpreters could go to Islamic Friday prayers, Smith said he went out onto the street and asked a complete stranger if he could help acquire rebar. Just like that he got assistance.