Florida judge dismisses claims against Chiquita - report
A Florida federal judge has reportedly dismissed several class action lawsuit claims in multidistrict litigation (MDL) alleging Chiquita Brands International paid $1.7 million to a paramilitary group in Colombia that killed and tortured the plaintiffs’ relatives.
On Aug. 23, U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra found payments approved in U.S. did not specifically fund terrorist attacks, Top Class Actions reported.
Chiquita Brands International’s “payments approved in the United States were not made specifically to fund terror attacks on innocent civilians, although Chiquita executives allegedly knew or should have known that the money paid to the AUC [Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia] would incidentally fuel such attacks,” according to the judge’s order.
He likened the Columbian plaintiffs’ lawsuit to a 2021 U.S. Supreme Court case in which the court rejected Alien Tort Statute jurisdiction in a case involving allegations Nestle aided and abetted child slavery.
“As in Nestle, this is insufficient to establish a connection between the U.S. based decision making – intended to purchase protection against guerilla attacks on foreign infrastructure – and the tortious conduct of the AUC abroad,” Judge Marra was quoted as saying in the Chiquita lawsuit order.
Judge Marra determined that the plaintiffs’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute were impermissibly extraterritorial and dismissed them with prejudice. He dismissed the plaintiffs’ allegations of violations of the Torture Victim Protection Act but will give them a final opportunity to amend this claim.
Nineteen Chiquita lawsuits are reportedly pending in the MDL. The plaintiffs include approximately 7,500 Colombian nationals who allege their family members were victims of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations by AUC during the Colombian civil war.
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