Light Sentence for Death of California Farm Worker

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The death of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez gained national attention in 2008, when the farm worker died of heatstroke after working nine hours straight, under a hot sun, in a vineyard in California’s central valley. She was only 17 years old, and pregnant, when she died. As a result, criminal charges were filed against the two owners of Merced Farm Labor Contractors, the first time a labor contractor had been sued for a death due to heatstroke. And just two weeks ago, a San Joaquin County judge ruled against the contractors, accepting a plea deal and handing down a penalty of probation, community service and monetary fines. Worker advocacy groups - including the United Farm Workers, who had called for the imprisonment of the two contractors - were disappointed by the sentence.