On March 26, 2002, Deadria Farmer-Paellmann filed a landmark class action lawsuit for slavery reparations against blue-chip American corporations. Just two years ago, she succeeded in drawing international attention to tainted corporations as she secured an unprecedented public apology from Aetna Incorporated for writing insurance policies on the lives of slaves with slaveholders as the beneficiaries in the 1800's. As lead plaintiff in the recently filed class action case, she hopes to secure a humanitarian trust fund to benefit descendants of enslaved Africans.
She earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science at the City University of New York, Brooklyn College in 1988; she completed her Masters Degree specializing in Lobbying and Political Campaign Management at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C in 1995; and she earned her Juris Doctorate degree from New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts in 1999.
While attending law school, she deliberately chose several courses that could help with her objective: modern remedies, dealing with the area of law known as restitution; constitutional law; contract law; international law, focusing on human rights law; and race and the law. It was in the race-and-law class that Farmer-Paellmann first studied Cato vs. U.S., a 1995 case in which the plaintiffs tried to sue the U.S. government for reparations but were shot down by the courts. Farmer-Paellmann recognized the inherent difficulty of suing the government so she began to wonder "who else owes reparations besides the government, and that's when I started looking at corporations and private estates."
Over the past 16 years, Deadria has served her community in various capacities through her work with public interest organizations and elected officials such as the Congressional Black Caucus, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N'COBRA), the Reparations Coordinating Committee, and State Assemblyman Roger L. Green.
For more information about the lawsuit, see "Seeking Justice for Slavery's Sins," L.A. Times, April 22, 2002: http://www.latimes.com/features/lifestyle/la000028595apr22.story
The Complaint is on the web at: http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/slavery/fpllmnflt032602cmp.pdf