Rojas (plaintiff) was injured while working for Richardson (defendant) as a ranch hand. Rojas sued Richardson for negligence in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas under its diversity jurisdiction. During trial, Richardson’s attorney repeatedly referred to Rojas as an “alien.” In closing arguments, Richardson’s attorney then asked the jury not to give Rojas any special treatment due to his status as an “illegal alien” and discussed the kind of treatment that would be expected “[i]f the situation were reversed and you or I were in Mexico.” Rojas’ attorney did not object. The court instructed the jury that “all persons are equal before the law” and that the case should be treated “as an action between two persons of equal standing in the community.” The jury returned a verdict for Richardson. Rojas appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.