Things were looking up for Dole legally even before a federal judge rejected a Nicaraguan court’s award against the company as coming from a fundamentally unfair legal system. (See earlier post.)
The latest edition of California Lawyer magazine covers the corrupt class-action case against Dole based on invented claims of chemical exposure in Nicaragua banana plantations. The article, “Rotten Bananas,” uses the rulings by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Victoria G. Chaney to tell the story. She denounced the lawsuit as “not just a fraud on this court, but …blatant extortion of the defendants.”
A “heinous conspiracy” by plaintiffs attorneys in Nicaragua and the United States had so infected “every aspect” of the cases, she said, that it is “not possible for this court to ensure a fair, untainted trial.” …She dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice, “preventing their ability to ever come back, at least in this court, and hopefully in any other court, and raise these claims again.” She added, “I have serious, serious doubts about the bona fides of any plaintiff claiming to have been injured as a result of exposure to DBCP while working on banana plantations. Because of all this, lesser sanctions are wholly inadequate.”
The Recorder, Oct. 19, “Lawyer Facing Possible Discipline Digs Hole a Little Deeper
The Recorder, Oct. 6, “Lawyer Who Signed Fraudulent Briefs in Pesticide Class Action May Be Spared Suspension”
Dole news release, June 19, “Dole Vindicated by Court’s Formal Findings of Fraud and Corruption by Nicaraguan Plaintiffs Claiming Injury by DBCP and Their Lawyers
But there’s always law firm willing to role the dice, down the shake. From a news release, announcing a $150 million lawsuit:
Austin, TX (PRWEB) October 19, 2009 — On November 2nd, HendlerLaw and The Lanier Law Firm will ask a Texas Court to certify an international class action against Dole Food Company, Inc., The Dow Chemical Company and others for DBCP related injuries to Banana plantation workers from various countries (cause # 93-c-2290, Texas State Court, Brazoria County).
The Class Action Complaint alleges exposure to DBCP while working on Dole and Chiquita Banana plantations caused sterility, renal damage, cancer and other health problems and contends Dole senior management expressly directed farm managers to disregard safe use guidelines.
With unemployment nearing 10 percent and the economy barely starting to recover, we hope, from the deepest post-WWII recession, we need to remember that suits like this damage business investment and economic growth. It’s a good time to reread the Pacific Research Institute’s “Jackpot Justice: The True Cost of America’s Tort System,” which reports, “[The] economic drag of the American tort system costs billions, lowering the standard of living for ordinary citizens nationwide.”