Lawsuit Accusing Dole Food Co. Of Financing Paramilitaries Thrown Out Of Court, Plaintiffs & Their Lawyers Sanctioned
Dole Food Company, Inc. today announced that the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed with prejudice the case Perez v. Dole Food Company, Inc. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2009, had been brought by 167 Colombian plaintiffs claiming that Dole had funded the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) paramilitaries during Colombia’s civil conflict.
Dole competitor Chiquita Brands admitted paying extortion bribes (vacuna in Colombia, for “vaccination”) to both the AUC as well as communist FARC and ELN rebels, and in 2007 was fined $25 million by the US Justice Department. Dole, on the other hand, has adamantly denied any involvement and has vigorously fought the claims against the company.
Recently the court awarded Dole tens of thousands of dollars in sanctions for the plaintiffs’ and their counsel’s “misuse of the discovery process” and separately ordered discovery into witness payment issues and a forensic investigation of plaintiffs’ counsel’s laptops and other electronic devices. Rather than defend themselves against Dole’s claims that plaintiffs’ counsel paid for fabricated testimony and engaged in other serious witness tampering, plaintiffs and their counsel chose instead to abandon their litigation and dismiss the case with prejudice.
Genevieve Kelly, Dole’s Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, stated: “This is a long overdue dismissal of a case that should never have been brought in the first place. These plaintiffs’ lawyers acted in bad faith throughout almost seven years of litigation in trying to extract undeserved payments from the Company and making false and inflammatory accusations.”
Johan Linden, Dole’s President and Chief Operating Officer, also stated: “Dole did not fund the AUC, and all assertions to the contrary are completely outrageous. Dole fought back every step of the way and brought to light the abuse of legal process, which led to the plaintiffs abandoning their case with prejudice.”
Finance Colombia has reached out to plaintiff’s counsel for comment but as of press time has not received a response. Should Finance Colombia receive a response, this article will be updated.