March 31, 2017

On April 3, 2017, after a 15-year struggle with the notorious defense contractor, DynCorp International, International Rights Advocates, together with co-counsel Ted Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, will go to trial on behalf of more than 2,000 Ecuadoran plaintiffs at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to establish that when DynCorp implemented Plan Colombia, it unlawfully invaded Ecuadoran territory and fumigated thousands of farmers and ruined their farms.

As part of Plan Colombia, a U.S. initiative explicitly aimed at combatting drug cartels and left-wing insurgents in Colombian territory, DynCorp was hired by the U.S. government to carry out aerial spraying to eradicate coca crops in Colombia.  However, at the trial, plaintiffs will show the jury substantial evidence that DynCorp sprayed in Ecuador, having a devastating impact on plaintiffs’ food crops and negatively affecting the health and mental wellbeing of Ecuadorans living in the vicinity of the Colombian border.

Since the initial filing of this case against DynCorp on September 11, 2001, International Rights Advocates has consistently prevailed after numerous attempts to dismiss this case – and are confident that a jury will finally bring DynCorp to justice and award substantial damages to the plaintiffs who have waited over 15 years for their day in court. In 2008, Ecuador sued Colombia at the International Court of Justice for aerial spraying of toxic herbicides on coca crops by Colombia along the border claiming that “the spraying ha[d] already caused serious damage to people, to crops, to animals, and to the natural environment on the Ecuadorian side of the frontier, and pose[d] a grave risk of further damage over time.” The case was settled in 2013. And, in 2015, Colombia ordered a halt to the aerial spraying of coca “citing concerns that the spray causes cancer.” These developments reinforce that the effects of these fumigations were widely known and were devastating to the plaintiffs.

“This is an historic case - a finding against DynCorp will bring justice to the Ecuadoran farmers who have been waiting a long time to have their day in court. A jury will finally get the chance to hear the evidence that DynCorp aerially sprayed a toxic poison that was designed to kill hardy coca plants on thousands of Ecuadoran farmers and killed their crops, their animals, and caused untold misery for the farmers and their families,” says Terry Collingsworth, Counsel for the Plaintiffs and Executive Director of International Rights Advocates.

The full press release can be viewed here.

Contact: Desmond Lee or Denise Luu at cohenmilstein@berlinrosen.com