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Chronology on heat death of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez

Chronology on heat death of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez

1980s    Cal-OSHA, the state work safety agency, is directed to issue heat regulations to prevent heat illness deaths in the fields after several farm workers die from heat-related causes.

2005    Following a drive by the United Farm Workers, Gov. Schwarzenegger signs the first heat regulation in the nation after five farm workers die from the heat in less than a year.

2006    Merced Farm Labor Contractors, which harvests for a subsidiary of Franzia Wines, is fined by Cal-OSHA for violating the heat regulations. The company never pays it. Cal-OSHA never tries to collect the fine or follows up to ensure compliance with heat rules.  

May 14, 2008    Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, 17, collapses after laboring more than nine hours without accessible shade or water. She dies two days later. Management never calls 911 and tells Maria Isabel’s fiancé to lie about the events.

May 28, 2008    Gov. Schwarzenegger attends Maria Isabel funeral in Lodi and vows to protect farm workers from heat death and illnesses.

June-August 2008    Five more farm workers die from heat illness in California.

May 30-June 4, 2008      A “March for Fallen Farm Workers” with Maria Isabel’s family is led by the UFW from Lodi to the state Capitol in Sacramento.

June 13, 2008      Cal-OSHA revokes Merced Farm Labor Contractors’ business license. The Franzia Wines subsidiary hires a new farm labor contractor to employ the same work force.

June, 2008      Maria Isabel’s uncle, Doroteo Jimenez, who worked for the same contracting firm earlier used by Franzia’s subsidiary, visits the Capitol to meet with the Governor’s Office. The new contractor for the Franzia subsidiary fires Jimenez for participating in the meeting.  

July 4, 2008      Merced Farm Labor Contractors’ business license is temporarily reinstated.

September 2008    Four months after Maria Isabel died, Assistant San Joaquin County District
Attorney Fleming is assigned the case.

2009    The UFW, Public Counsel, the ACLU and the law firm of Munger, Tolles, and Olson sue the state for failing to enforce its own heat regulations.

January 2011     The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office announces a plea deal without jail time for the criminal defendants from the now-defunct labor contracting firm who caused Maria Isabel’s death. Maria Isabel’s family is not informed of the proposed plea bargain. Superior Court Judge Michael Garrigan schedules a hearing on the plea deal for March 9, 2011.