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Dykema team secures restitution in pro bono case

Working pro bono, Bonnie Mayfield and Heidi Naasko led the team that secured a nearly $225,000 restitution award for a victim of human trafficking

Dykema Gossett member Bonnie Mayfield

Working pro bono, Dykema Gossett member Bonnie Mayfield and pro bono and diversity counsel Heidi Naasko led the team that secured a nearly $225,000 restitution award for a victim of human trafficking. The award compensates the victim, who was a minor at the time of the crime, for several years of physical and mental abuse, according to the firm. The trafficker, who is currently imprisoned for these and other crimes, initially began communicating with the victim as part of an immigration scam. The defendant plans to appeal.

“This case was really rewarding because I was able to help someone subjected to inhumane treatment as a child,” Mayfield, a member of the Litigation and Labor & Employment Law practice groups, told WIPL. “This case reminded me of my first interview for a legal job wherein I was asked: ‘What makes you angry and gets your blood boiling?’ My response was: ‘Man’s inhumanity to man.’”

The Dykema team called on its knowledge of the federal crime victim laws, specifically the Crime Victims’ Rights Act and the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, which was accompanied by expert testimony and extensive briefing.

According to Mayfield, Dykema brought extensive resources to bear on the case. For example, about 28 hours before the evidentiary hearing, Dykema received the opponent’s expert witness report that had existed for more than a month. Mayfield, who has significant trial experience, and Naasko immediately got to work and called in others to help. “At our firm, we have a lot of different resources, and we deployed those so I could to prepare to cross-examine the witness, should he appear at the hearing,” she said. “Everyone pitched in like troopers, so we were more than prepared to take on cross-examination.” The expert didn’t appear at the hearing, and the report was excluded.

Mayfield has successfully litigated employment discrimination, labor, hybrid §301, retaliation, wage and hour, whistleblower, tort, product liability and commercial matters. She regularly advises and counsels clients about administrative, internal and labor matters. A long-time member of the International Association of Defense Counsel, Mayfield was recently named vice chair of the Diversity Committee. Mayfield is committed to diversity both personally and professionally. She pointed to research in an article by Sheryl Axelrod that demonstrates that among the AmLaw 200, more diverse firms notch $100,000 more in profits per partner. “It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the profitable thing to do, as well,” she said.

In addition to administering the program and mentoring lawyers in various areas of public interest law, Naasko maintains a substantive poverty law practice. Her case load includes representation of unaccompanied immigrant children who are child victims of human trafficking and have either been victims of crime in their country of origin or in the United States. She also represents domestic violence survivors in divorce, child custody, immigration matters and personal protection orders.

Contributing Author

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Amy I. Stickel

Amy I. Stickel has extensive experience covering the legal, financial and pharmaceutical industries as a writer and editor. A past managing editor of Corporate Legal Times and...

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