Dole banana saga continues
A federal judge in Miami said he may decide that Westlake Village-based Dole Food Inc. can’t be forced to pay a Nicaraguan court’s $97 million verdict awarded to banana plantation workers, Bloomberg News reported.
In a Sept. 4 hearing, U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck said that he didn’t see how he could sustain the Nicaraguan law. The Nicaraguan verdict was issued four years ago in favor of 150 plaintiffs who claimed injuries, including sterility, from a pesticide used at Dole’s plantations in the 1970s. Dole won a ruling earlier this year in Los Angeles that three class-action lawsuits by the banana workers were based on a conspiracy hatched by U.S. and Nicaraguan plaintiff lawyers with the help of some judges in Nicaragua.
In the September hearing before Huck, Dole argued that the Nicaraguan law is biased against foreign companies and violates international legal standards. Since 2002, Nicaraguan courts have issued judgments in 32 such lawsuits, awarding damages totaling $2.1 billion against Dole and pesticide makers. If the plaintiffs win in Miami, their lawyers will try in U.S. courts to collect other judgments that the companies have refused to pay, Dole said.