A Los Angeles judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Dole Food Co., saying the Nicaraguan plaintiffs who claimed to have been made sterile by pesticides used on a company farm engaged in fraud.
The March 15 dismissal, by Los Angeles Superior Court Justice Victoria Chaney, formalizes a July 15 ruling in which she threw out a $1.58 million judgment against Dole. There was âclear and convincing evidenceâ the judgment was the product of fraud, Chaney said, according to a March 15 statement from Dole.
Plaintiffsâ lawyers âcoached their clients to lie about working on banana farms, forged work certificates to create the appearance that their clients had worked on Dole-contracted farms, and faked lab results to create the impression that their clients were sterile,â Chaney said, according to Doleâs statement.
Additionally, plaintiffsâ lawyers and their agents threatened witnesses âand took other actions to carry out the fraud,â Chaney said. Her ruling followed a review of sworn testimony of 27 protected witnesses who described the fraud.
The dismissal of the lawsuit, Tellez vs. Dole, follows a 2007 a jury award to six workers who claimed they were made sterile by pesticides at a Dole banana plantation. The lawsuit alleged that pesticide exposure on a Dole-contracted plantation in Nicaragua in the 1970s made thousands of workers sterile. In July, Chaney said âit is not reasonableâ to conclude 14,000 claimants were made sterile.
The Tellez case was the final remaining lawsuit against Dole brought by Nicaraguan plaintiffs claiming exposure to the pesticide dibromochloropropane, or DBCP.
C. Michael Carter, executive vice president and general counsel for Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole, said Tellez claims âlacked any credibility whatsoever and, like other DBCP lawsuits, never should have been brought in the first place,â according to the companyâs statement.