For the love of justice

For the love of justice

Young lawyer talks passion for helping the dispossessed

Sunday, May 21, 2017

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If his case success list is anything to go by, Jason Jones is fulfilling his desire to make a difference in people's lives. With less than a decade in the field, the young attorney has won several landmark cases. But more than the euphoria of the win and the accompanying pay cheque, he says, is the sheer gratification of helping someone who would not have otherwise been served had he not intervened.He is based in Montego Bay and specialises in litigation, debt collection, personal injury, and recovery of possession of property.

“A lot of people don't know their rights so I like to assist them and help them get justice. I've seen how people suffer seriously in accidents and sometimes when they don't have an attorney they get way less than they deserve. That's why I've dedicated part of my practice to helping these people,” he told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

Law wasn't his first love, Jones divulged, but his desire to help others, coupled with strengths in subjects such as English language, history and literature lured him from medical interests.

“There's no better feeling than helping others,” he said. “I personally don't do it for the money; it's never been about the money for me. It's about the love I have for people and the impact that I can have on their lives. It's the look on a person's face who got injured and did not expect much out of it, but because of my assistance they ended up getting much more than they ever thought they would. Just that look or that appreciation from them is priceless. Just that person coming back to say thanks and that they're grateful — sometimes that means so much more to me than even the money.”

But that appreciation isn't always forthcoming. Jones realted that the client in one of his landmark cases passed away days before the court ruled in his favour and awarded him $25 million in damages.

“My client was a pump attendant at [a concrete manufacturer]. Part of his job was to sweep a certain part of the complex. He came to us and told us that he had lung cancer which he thought he developed from exposure to the cement dust and the wet concrete he encountered daily while at work. We got a medical report for him from an oncologist who confirmed that his exposure to chemicals at [the plant] was more than likely the cause of his lung cancer.”

It was a long and hard-fought court battle, Jones said, but after hearing all the evidence, the court ruled in his client's favour.

“After a while, it was like he was just living for that case. I watched him deteriorate over the years. Even up to the date of trial it was evident that he was ailing. Up to a week before the ruling he called for an update; but there was no word yet. He died shortly after that, just days before the court delivered its ruling.”

It weighed heavily on Jones' mind for a very long time.

“I wished he had survived to hear the ruling. I wished he could have just held on a little longer to see that we won the case and that he was getting justice. The court awarded him in excess of $25 million, which will now go to his estate. This case was a landmark ruling because this was one of the first reported lung cancer trials in Jamaica.

Another landmark cancer judgement which Jones won involved a port worker who was exposed to cancerous material due to negligence.

“The client was a customs tally officer working at [the port]. He, along with other employees were told to inspect a damaged container on a ship. They weren't given adequate protective gear and upon opening the container, persons became ill. My client was later diagnosed with chronic leukaemia. We built a case surrounding the fact that the cancer was as a result of his exposure to the material in the container. We sued the commissioner of customs and the attorney general for failing to provide a safe environment and proper gear. The client was in his 30s and, taking everything into consideration, the court awarded almost $100 million in damages,” Jones told Career & Education.

That client, too, succumbed to his illness; dying just over a year later.

“Just knowing that I was able to help him get justice before he died makes me feel good,” the young lawyer said resolutely.

Jones, a graduate of the University of Guyana who was called to the bar in 2009, also faced off in court with telecoms company Claro back in 2013, arguing successfully that the company had illegally cut a road through his client's property to access its cell towers and, in the process, damaged a wall. The court awarded some $18 million in damages.

There was also a case in which his client was awarded $5 million for false imprisonment.

In spite of the successes, Jones, who was born in St James and grew up in a close-knit family in Porus, Manchester, says he has remained grounded.

“By nature I'm a humble person and anybody who knows me will attest to that. I'm far from arrogant. I try to stay confident, but never arrogant. I know where I want to reach in life and everything that I have achieved so far is because of hard work. I've never had it laid on a platter for me so I know if I want to reach further I will have to continue working hard.

“My parents, from day one, were always about education, so from then they instilled in me the fact that education gives you the best opportunities and you should always stay focused.”

“Even up to today they're my closest friends; they're always looking out for me and guiding me. They're my backbone and everything that I am now I attribute to their guidance.”

And continuing to work hard is exactly what Jason Jones plans to do. He recently started his own firm, however he remains a consultant at a prominent law firm where he has worked for almost a decade.

So what does Jason Jones want his legacy to be? “I always say that reputation is everything. I want to be remembered as a person who is a hard worker, who is honest, and who believes the sky is the limit. Most importantly though, I want to be remembered as someone who always worked hard to make other people's lives better.”

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