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Nationwide Impact: Bridging Justice Gaps in San Diego

“Lisa”, an elderly woman residing in a remote corner of San Diego, had limited access to public transportation. Her grasp of both Spanish and English was limited, making her heavily reliant on a modest social security income to make ends meet. Seeking a new vehicle that would grant her the mobility and independence she so desperately needed, Lisa visited a local dealership.

In a candid conversation, Lisa shared her entire budget with the salesman, emphasizing her financial constraints. She placed her trust in his guidance to find a vehicle that would align with her needs. Regrettably, the salesman misled her into signing a contract for a pre-owned car, omitting key facts in his oral description of the terms of the contract. For example, the car was misrepresented as new and the payments stretched far beyond her monthly financial capacity, causing an overwhelming burden. 

When Lisa attempted to return the car, the salesman refused, despite the contract allowing for such a return. When Lisa was unable to make the monthly payments, the car was repossessed, and when the financing company still relentlessly demanded payments, her credit score bore the scars of the ordeal. It was at this point that Lisa realized she needed help.

Lisa turned to the Legal Aid Society of San Diego (LASD), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free legal services to lower-income San Diego residents and committed to advancing justice through effective, efficient, and vigorous legal advocacy. It was within this organization that Mintz attorneys Grecia Rivas and Jennifer Kim were introduced to the case.

Grecia and Jennifer embarked on a mission to correct the injustices Lisa had faced. Their persistent efforts reached fruition in October 2023 when they skillfully negotiated a tentative settlement on Lisa’s behalf. Through their unrelenting advocacy, they negotiated a return of the original sum of money Lisa had invested in the car and removal of the damaging entry from her credit record. Although the parties are still finalizing the draft settlement, this tentative settlement gives Lisa hope that justice is near. 

Grecia Rivas reflects on the impact of their work, stating, “As attorneys, we often find ourselves amidst complex legal battles, but cases like Lisa's remind us of the importance of justice and zealous advocacy. Her story, a poignant example of vulnerability and trust being exploited, resonates deeply with my family’s own experiences as Mexican immigrants. Through my pro bono work, I seek to use my legal expertise as a tool for positive change, ensuring that individuals like Lisa are not just heard, but also protected by the law, regardless of the language they speak or their country of origin. Our work here isn't just about legal victories; it's about restoring dignity and hope to someone who almost lost both.”



Grecia Rivas, Associate

Jennifer Kim, Associate


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