July 8, 2009

Turnabout in Dole Banana Litigation: Now Dole is Asking for Punitive Damages

We've been blogging about California litigation brought by Nicaraguan banana workers against Dole, based on alleged exposure to pesticides. Early on, the plaintiffs obtained (and then lost) a punitive damages award against Dole. The litigation has taken some bizarre twists and turns since then, including a disciplinary proceeding instigated by the Ninth Circuit against one set of plaintiffs' lawyers, and a dismissal of another action, prompted by the revelation that many of the plaintiffs in that action never worked on a banana farm and/or had fathered children, despite their claims of sterility.

The latest news in this saga is that Dole is bringing a lawsuit of its own. According to LABIZObserved, Dole has sued a filmmaker who made a pro-plaintiff documentary about Dole's conduct and the subsequent litigation. Dole claims the filmmaker (Fredrik Gertten) ignored the truth, even after the California court proceedings unfolded and revealed the falsity of the plaintiffs' claims. Dole is asking for punitive damages.