Mona Lisa Wallace will be president of Public Justice Foundation
Salisbury attorney Mona Lisa Wallace, founding partner of Wallace and Graham, will be sworn in July 28 as president of the Public Justice Foundation, the nonprofit organization that supports one of the country’s most prominent public interest law firms.
Wallace has practiced for more than 30 years at Wallace and Graham.
She has represented clients in civil litigation, workers compensation, general and premises liability, insurance coverage, consumer protection, personal injury, mass and toxic torts and products liability including asbestos, coal tar, silica, radiation, chemical poisonings, prescription drugs and other similar claims.
Her work has often involved mass and class claims.
Public Justice is America’s public interest law firm, supported by ó and calling on ó a nationwide network of more than 3,000 top lawyers to pursue precedent-setting and socially significant litigation.
It has a wide-ranging litigation docket in the areas of consumer rights, worker safety, civil rights and liberties, toxic torts, environmental protection and access to the courts.
Public Justice is the principal project of the Public Justice Foundation, a not-for-profit membership organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a West Coast office in Oakland, Calif.
Wallace’s goals for her presidency of Public Justice include a concentration on advancing justice for consumers and an emphasis on protecting workers’ and victims’ rights.
“Without class and collective action mechanisms,” Wallace said in a press release, “workers who suffer toxic exposures may have no recourse. Retirees who lose pension and healthcare benefits may have no access to court.
“Consumers would lack the power to challenge unfair and deceptive practices.”
She said through class actions and mass claims ordinary working people and low-income consumers can take on corporations that are too large and powerful for an individual to challenge alone.
In keeping with the goals and the Public Justice’s commitment to protecting Americans’ access to the courts, Wallace’s law firm is currently involved in cases of national significance, including:
– Asbestos/personal injury ó The firm was counsel in the Amanda Satterfield case, where a young girl died from mesothelioma having been exposed as a young child to asbestos particles on her father’s work clothes.
The Tennessee Supreme Court held that her family could sue Alcoa, the company that exposed her father to asbestos.
The firm says it represents thousands of working people and their families suffering from asbestos exposure and other occupational diseases in North Carolina and throughout the Southeast.
– Pensions and retiree benefits ó The firm is counsel in cases against Duke Energy and Alcoa alleging improper reduction of pension and retiree benefits owed to thousands of workers and their families.
The cases are pending in South Carolina and Tennessee Federal Court.
– Payday lender class actions ó The firm is cooperating counsel with Public Justice, representing consumers in class actions pending against Advance America, Check Into Cash, Check ‘n Go and other payday lenders who illegally continued to lend in North Carolina after the state passed laws to end predatory lending.
The court recently certified classes in three of the cases and held arbitration clauses with class action bans to be unconscionable.
– Consumer class actions ó The firm represents consumers in class actions pending against Hendrick Automotive Group, Alan Vester Auto Group and Sonic Automotive Group.
The consumers allege that these companies engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices in connection with car sales. Classes were certified in the Hendrick and Vester cases this month.
– Bad faith and malicious prosecution litigation ó The firm recently settled a malicious prosecution and libel claim brought when Erie Insurance subjected one of the firm’s clients to an unlawful criminal arrest due to misrepresentations Erie made to the State Department of Insurance.
– False claims act litigation ó The firm is counsel in a case pending in Tennessee Federal Court alleging that Guidant, a company that manufacturers defibrillators and pacemakers, fraudulently caused inflated payments by Medicare and other public healthcare systems for these devices.
The fifth woman to lead the 27-year-old organization, Wallace has long been a member of the Public Justice Foundation’s executive committee and its board of directors. She has also served as a member of the foundation’s diversity committee and case development committee, co-chair of the program development committee and the major donor/special gifts committee, and N.C. state coordinator.
Wallace attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she received a bachelor of arts degree with honors in 1976. She attended Wake Forest University School of Law and received a juris doctor degree with honors in 1979.