U.S.: Colombian paramilitary case against Dole thrown out of court
Produce multinational Dole Food Company has hailed a decision by the Los Angeles Superior Court this week to dismiss with prejudice a case brought by 167 Colombian plaintiffs claiming the company had funded the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Unlike Chiquita, which also operated in the country during its years of civil conflict and had told the Department of Justice it made forced payments to the AUC, Dole denies ever paying the paramilitary group.
The Perez v. Dole Food Company, Inc. lawsuit has been going on since 2009.
"This is a long overdue dismissal of a case that should never have been brought in the first place," Dole vice president and general counsel Genevieve Kelly said in a release.
"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."
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 allegations and dismiss the case with prejudice.
"Dole did not fund the AUC, and all assertions to the contrary are completely outrageous," said Dole president Johan Linden.
"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."