Born in a small town in Soviet occupied Poland, Dorota Nigro emigrated to the United States in 1972, where she graduated high school and received a BA in foreign languages from Montclair State College in New Jersey. She met her future husband, Anthony Nigro, in 1986 while he worked for the Manhattan Transportation Authority (MTA). The couple married in 1987 and bought a home on Long Island, where they had two beautiful and intelligent children. Upon retiring from the MTA in 2011, Anthony was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, caused by the diesel fumes he was exposed to as a bus mechanic. He died in under four months. After learning that his cancer was brought on by environmental causes, Dorota resolved to fight her husband's company, even though Anthony believed she could not win against such a powerful corporation and that he was "just a number." Ultimately, Dorota won the first worker's compensation lawsuit in the country linking diesel fumes to cancer in 2014 and continues to fight to spread awareness of the harm diesel fumes have caused for generations.