Dole to compensate Central American workers
Dole Food Company has agreed to pay compensation to more than 3,000 former workers who claimed the pesticides Nemagon and Fumazone caused damaging health effects, website Elnuevodiario.com.ni reported.
After 15 years of legal battles the multinational reached a deal with a group of lawyers from firm Provost Umphrey to provide an undisclosed amount to 3,153 claimants, out of more than 17,000 people who were affected by the agrochemicals.
The workers were mostly Nicaraguan but there were some from Costa Rica and Honduras, while 300 of the victims have died since the lawsuit began. The remaining claimants have lawsuits against the company through different law firms.
Provost Umphrey Jacinto Obregón said the claimants had a strong case against Dole with substantial evidence of a link between the pesticide's use and sterility, based on scientific tests, documental proof and witness accounts, the story reported.
But Dole spokesperson Humberto Hurtado said Dole was not responsible for the damages and had decided on the compensation as a gesture of social responsibility.
"Dole Food Company reiterates that there were no damages from exposure or evidence to support injuries to health, but for the sake of our social responsibility we have taken this important step, although it shouldn't be interpreted as an economic foundation for other groups to claim compensation," Hurtado was quoted as saying.
Obregón said the firm decided to accept the deal to avoid the continued wearing down of the victims, criticizing the multinational for not taking responsibility.